COVID-19 Testing Goes Mobile, Thanks to Dentists


A dental van from Pacific University is now a mobile COVID-19 screening outreach in Oregon

FOREST GROVE – It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. No doubt the COVID-19 crisis is inspiring many Oregonians to think creatively about how we can help fight this virus and serve people in our communities in new ways.

Yadira Martinez is one of them. Martinez is a dental hygienist at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center and came up with the idea to convert a Pacific University dental van into a COVID-19 mobile screening site.

Martinez is a 2008 graduate of Pacific University’s inaugural dental hygiene program. Following graduation, Martinez landed a job at Virginia Garcia and was recently tapped to assist with COVID-19 screenings on the mobile van. The mobile clinic van was stationed between two clinic sites each day, limiting the screening capacity to only a few days per week at each location. When Martinez noticed the need to expand capacity, she thought of the van that Pacific University had for community dental care services. Pacific University has been a long-term partner with Virginia Garcia in providing students internship and employment opportunities, and this new collaboration aligned perfectly with their shared community service efforts.

Serena Cruz, executive director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, explained that Pacific University’s contribution to lend their van allows Virginia Garcia to expand screening efforts and frees up their existing mobile clinic for both screening and the community health care it typically provides. “In the evenings during the summer, our mobile clinic goes to migrant work camps for medical care and outreach, so having Pacific University’s collaboration and support with their van allows that work to continue,” Cruz said.

Cruz praised Martinez for bringing this innovative idea forward noting that, “the care, commitment and expertise she brings to this work is extraordinary.”  Martinez, who spent her lunch break to discuss this story from the mobile clinic van, shared that she “values the commitment Pacific University has made in emphasizing the importance of community service to students” and she encourages community members to visit a clinic for COVID-19 screening and health care services.

Virginia Garcia began offering COVID-19 screenings at their clinics on March 16 and opened their first drive-through screening on March 27.

Current patients of Virginia Garcia may contact their primary care provider should they need COVID-19 screening. Residents of Washington and Yamhill counties who are not current patients may contact the Virginia Garcia clinic nearest them to enroll as a patient or to seek COVID-19 specific services without enrolling.

In addition to offering screenings at five primary care clinic locations, Virginia Garcia has a mobile clinic at Hillsboro Stadium five days a week and the newly converted dental van at Yamhill County Fairgrounds in McMinnville two days a week.

About Author

Angela Ward is a Business Analyst at the Department of Fish and Wildlife

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