In the beginning of 1993, a group of UCSF dental students joined medical students in their efforts to run a homeless health clinic for the Multi-Service Center (MSC) at Fifth and Bryant Street. Linda Kajisa, a second year medical student who also held a DDS degree from UCSF, proposed the idea to add dental care to the services provided by the clinic.
All the necessary equipment was donated by Dr. Andrew Valenti, an Alumnus of UCSF School of Dentistry. On January 9, 1993, a group of dental and medical students transported the equipment from Dr. Valenti's office to MSC. In order to use the newly donated equipment, additional funds had to be raised to convert one of the shelter's rooms to an operating dental office that met regulations. The first screening was held soon afterwards on January 26, 1993 with a plan to open the clinic for dental screening every other Tuesday.
The need for the dental clinic was confirmed when the shelter compiled a two-page list of individuals seeking dental care in just one day. Because most of the clients had no access to any dental care, the clinic offered baseline extra- and intra- oral exams and oral cancer screenings, as well as oral hygiene instruction. Dental students dispensed dental floss, toothpaste, and toothbrushes to the homeless, and some patients were even able to receive pain medication and antibiotics. Because the clinic was not equipped to treat patients, dental emergencies were referred out to San Francisco General Hospital and the Berkeley Free Clinic.
The clinic has proved to fill a much-needed service for the homeless population in San Francisco while also giving UCSF students an opportunity to provide for the community and gain valuable clinical experience.