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Local dentists volunteer in Dominican

Mariposa Girls and staff pause to take a picture with the dental team, back row from left, Dental Assistant Shauna Flynn, Dr. Aaron Wachlarowicz, Dr. Luke MacMenamin, Dental Assistant Heather Thompson, Dr. Ben Fravel, Dr. Brian Whisler, Dr. Amy Ott and friend Kathy Santos who worked as the interpreter for the team. (submitted photos)1 / 4
Dr. Luke MacMenamin and Shauna Flynn work on a child from the Mariposa Foundation.2 / 4
Dr. Brian Whisler and Shauna Flynn take a picture with a patient post treatment.3 / 4
Taking a break from work, Heather Thompson and Dr. Aaron Wachlarowicz feed the Squirrel Monkeys that freely reside on the property. The Zip-lining and Monkey Attractions help fund the free Medical & Dental Clinics at Monkey Jungle.4 / 4

Five dentists and two dental assistants from mostly Hudson offices departed on a journey to treat several underserved populations in the Dominican Republic on  April 19.

Making the trip were Dr. Brian Whisler and Shauna Flynn from St. Croix Valley Dentistry, Dr. Luke MacMenamin from The Oral Surgery Center, Drs. Aaron Wachlarowicz and Ben Fravel and assistant Heather Thompson from River Heights Endodontics and Dr. Amy Ott from Amery Dental Arts.

The group provided free dental care to over 120 children from several local orphanages and shelters as well as over 40 adults from the Sosua region over the course of four days. This year marked the third year that local teams have served in the region and they were happy to find that many of the children they had treated in the past were thriving with marked improvements in their dental health.

The Dental team served at a facility called the Monkey Jungle located on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic just East of Puerto Plata. 

The Leon-Laroche Clinics at Monkey Jungle started in mid-2009 with visiting Nashville pediatric dentist pulling teeth in the rear of a Dodge pickup truck. By the end of that year they had finished building a small medical and dental clinic which opened to serve the surrounding communities. It was soon apparent that they would need a commercial attraction to expand, maintain and perpetuate these free clinics.

The idea to open a zip line and jungle where monkeys could enjoy their native habitat were born. Over 60,000 guests have visited the attractions and the free clinics at Monkey Jungle have treated over 25,000 medical and dental patients to date. Health care teams come volunteer with a commitment between three to six days. Monkey Jungle is founded and operated by Chuck and Candy Ritzen.

The dental team returned to the St. Croix Valley on April 26.

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