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Midvale Journal

Dental student organizes free clinic to serve children at Midvale CBC

Jul 25, 2019 11:25AM ● By Sarah Morton Taggart

Dental students from the University of Utah provide care for children during a free clinic at Midvale Community Building Community on June 24. (Sarah Morton Taggart/City Journals)

By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]

The young patient kicks her legs, but keeps her face still and her mouth open as two dental students treat four cavities one by one.

“We’re having fun here,” says Yuliya Petukhova as she finishes up the treatment. “Keep it open wide! Stay wide.”

As the girl steps out of the dental chair, James Keddington, the supervising dentistry professor, asks if she wants to be a dentist now. “Eh,” she replies. “But I had fun and it didn’t hurt.” Kareli Madrigal began her visit in tears, but gave each of her dentists a hug and a smile before she left.

Kareli was one of 28 children who received free dental care at the Midvale Community Building Community clinic on June 24, thanks largely to Petukhova. 

The University of Utah student, who is working to complete a doctor in dental surgery (DDS) degree, recruited 12 first- through fourth-year dental students, three professors and one graduate research assistant to volunteer their time that evening.

“Yuliya really rallied the troops,” said Mauricio Agramont, director of Midvale CBC. “She got the volunteer students to come and also the professors. You have to have the professors there to supervise. She purchased all of the food and supplies. It took her almost a year to pull everything together. And she wouldn’t let me help. She did it all on her own.”

Petukhova raised hundreds of dollars by selling her hand-drawn portraits on commission to friends, family and people connected with the dental school. She drew the portraits from photographs and once had the uncanny experience of seeing a face in real life that she only knew from her art.

The money she raised paid for dental supplies and dinner for the volunteers, patients and their families.

“I moved to the U.S. from Russia 17 years ago [at age 8], and my family didn’t have access to dental care as immigrants,” Petukhova said. “I would have appreciated someone doing something like this for me.”

Alexandria Taylor does community outreach for Midvale CBC’s programs, which includes education, recreation and a medical clinic in addition to low-cost dental services. Taylor arranged the appointments for all 28 children at the June 24 event. 

“Most are from Midvale schools, soccer leagues or from community health events,” Taylor said. “It feels awesome to help. We go to [families] that have no idea where to go, and I know who to connect them with. It’s a really good feeling. And when we don’t have the resources I get out and find them.”

Midvale CBC, located at 49 W. Center St. in Midvale, relies entirely on volunteer physicians to staff its clinic. 

“Student volunteers and faculty used to come to this clinic quite often, but we have since shifted to treating patients at our clinic on campus,” said Keddington, an attending faculty from the University of Utah. “Anyone can come to that clinic, but people still slip through the cracks and that’s why Yuliya set this up.”

Petukhova, who expects to graduate in 2020, volunteered at Midvale CBC during her first and second years in the dental program and currently lives in Sandy. She was always interested in science, mainly biology while a student at Skyline High School and fell in love with organic chemistry as an undergrad at the University of Utah. Petukhova’s current interest is in oral and maxillofacial surgery. After she completes a 6-year residency, she will be able to perform facial reconstructive surgery.

“I love dentistry because of the art and science of it,” she said. “Who better to restore a face than a portrait artist?”