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Dentists Offer Free Care in Talamanca

July 8, 2005

DOCTORS Peter Aborn and LuisBoza will be conducting two free dentalclinics for residents of the TalamancaIndigenous Reserve today through July 11,with simultaneous clinics to be held inAmubri and Suretka, in the southernCaribbean region of Talamanca.A group of dentists and dental assistantswill give free, basic care to the peoplein one of the poorest communities in thecountry. This “work camp” is the first in aseries of regular clinics Aborn intends toconduct eventually in all of the towns inthe reserve. A major portion of the necessarymaterials will be supplied by HenrySchein, the largest dental supply companyin the United States.“Dr. Peter is here! Dr. Peter is back!”was the cry as Aborn arrived in Amubri.The word went out and people began arrivingat the cantina to greet their old friend.A prosthodontist from New York City,Aborn has made his home in Costa Rica forthe past 10 years. He currently teaches atUniversidad Latina (UL) and is an instructorin the university’s student clinic. Boza, hispartner, is a 2004 UL graduate who worksfull-time for the Social Security System(Caja) and is also starting a private practice.When asked why he is willing to taketime out of an obviously busy life to go allthe way to Talamanca to work for nothingin primitive conditions, the young dentistreplied, “I want to give something back formy good fortune in life to people who haveso little.”At the time of the last government censusin 2002, 25,000 people were living onthe reserve. According to Dr. Mayra Rojas,the Caja’s coordinator of dental servicesfor Talamanca, the current population isslightly more than 30,000. At present, onlyfour dentists serve the entire area, whichincludes the Costa Rican-Panamanian bordertown of Sixaola. Amubri’s 3,118 inhabitantsreceive services only one day amonth. And if the electricity goes out, notmuch can be accomplished until the followingmonth.Aborn graduated from New YorkUniversity’s School of Dentistry in 1973.He did his postgraduate work at theEastman Dental Center in Rochester, NewYork, and was head of the department ofprosthodontics at Lenox Hill Hospital inNew York City until 1995, when he movedto Costa Rica. He spent a social serviceyear working for the Caja in 1997 in Bribríand throughout the reserve, where he formedlasting friendships and has gone back tohelp on a volunteer basis over the years.Aborn said the floods that did so muchdamage in the area in January motivatedhim to step up his assistance to one of themost under-served areas in the country.“I love these people; they are myfriends,” he said. “How could I not helpthem when they need so much?”The dentist is in the process of formalizingan organization called HealthServices for Talamanca. Once the dentalaspect of the program is running smoothly,he said, the project will be expanded toinclude medical, chiropractic and othersocial and educational services.For more information or to donatetime, money, expertise or dental supplies,call Aborn at 224-1839 or 845-3352, or emailhim at jopetar@ice.co.cr.

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