The streets of the mountain village of Verkhnyaya Saniba are not crowded on Sunday. Without urgent need, the villagers try not to go beyond the threshold: they were frightened by the unusually severe frosts. Revitalization is only near the outpatient clinic - today you can apply for free dental care here.
A car with dentists drives up to the one-story building of Soviet times. The volunteer doctors are met by the head of the village administration and the local paramedic. Young dentists take out several boxes from the trunk: from the "owners" they only need a room, the rest Eduard Gigolaev and his team bring with them.
Three years ago, a student of the Faculty of Dentistry of the North Ossetian State University, together with friends, came up with the project "Dental Health" Since then, he regularly travels to remote villages of the republic and in outpatient clinics or at home heals the teeth of the mountaineers.
Got to the villages
- About five years ago I visited my grandmother in South Ossetia, they didn't even have an outpatient clinic in the village. They could not receive basic medical services, let alone qualified dental treatment,”recalls Eduard Gigolaev.
A dentist in North Ossetia is a prestigious profession, in Vladikavkaz there is a dental office on almost every street.
- But in the villages there is no one to treat teeth, - says Eduard. - Therefore, our project is important.
In 2018, he laid out a project for free outreach assistance for mountain residents. The idea was liked by the jury of the Mashuk youth forum. 100 thousand rubles were allocated for the implementation. A year later, the amount was increased - they added another 400 thousand.
Edward himself was able to treat patients only after graduation. Therefore, for the first year, the dentist student only examined patients and gave advice on care or wrote out a referral to the city for free treatment. Volunteers helped. There were no problems with the set. Eduard has been the head of the Association of Young Dentists of the North Caucasus for several years. About 200 students, residents, dental surgeons and therapists responded to the offer to help the mountaineers.
"Where should I go with a crutch?"
From Verkhnyaya Saniba to Vladikavkaz, twenty kilometers and half an hour drive. The village is not small on the scale of the republic - two thousand people.
The rural dispensary here shares one building with the post office and administration. The first-aid post welcomes guests with damp walls and a broken office door. On the wooden floor are boxes with blank ambulatory coupons and alcohol prevention posters. “Getting ready for the move,” explains paramedic Fatima Ambalova.
- A new paramedic and obstetric center has already been built for us on the next street. Spacious premises with the necessary medical equipment, we will move there from day to day,”she says.
Visiting doctors are not embarrassed by the suitcase mood and everyday inconveniences. The dentists deploy the equipment and call the first patient.
A pensioner enters the office, limping and leaning on a crutch. Maya Dzebisova is seventy-one. She spent almost a year in bed after a broken leg, underwent several operations in Vladikavkaz and St. Petersburg, and had a coronavirus.
- Somehow it was not up to the teeth, although a dentist, of course, was needed. The bridge has already broken, and a toothache has appeared, - the woman explains. - But where can I go to dentistry with a crutch?
Perhaps the pensioner would have had to sit on painkillers, but in the morning a neighbor said: dentists from Vladikavkaz had arrived.
- I've heard a lot about these doctors on TV and on the Internet. Then I thought: “Wow! What guys are great. "In our time, it is rare that someone voluntarily and free of charge does such good deeds.
Travel for help
- In the village there are mainly elderly people, old people complain of high blood pressure, a sick liver, headaches, there are patients with chronic bronchitis. It is also better not to bring the teeth to inflammation: a toothache is considered one of the most severe, - explains paramedic Fatima.
Eduard Gigolaev and his assistants, meanwhile, quickly identify a problem tooth in an elderly patient. The nerve is removed, the canal is filled. Now the toothache will not bother the woman.
- When I was lying with coronavirus, there was no one to put IVs, our doctors have no right: there is no license. Even from the city no one wanted to go for money, - the pensioner recalls. - Therefore, thanks to the guys that they treat people free of charge. Maybe someday the village will have its own dentist.
So far, villagers go for free dental care 20 kilometers from Upper Saniba, to the village of Arkhonskaya, to a branch of the regional hospital.
However, many find it easier to get a paid service in Vladikavkaz. Due to competition, prices are low compared to other cities and regions, but not for old people. Treatment, similar to that offered by volunteers, in a private clinic will cost from two to five thousand rubles. Sometimes it is half of the pension. This is not counting the money and time for the trip to Vladikavkaz.
Pause for pandemic
In a gray suitcase of doctors - a drill, tips for removing caries and polishing, a lamp for quick hardening of the filling. The grant won at the Mashuk youth forum was spent on this portable dental unit. There was enough funding for consumables as well. We bought anesthesia, filling plasticine of different colors. But due to the pause for the pandemic, the consumables had an expiration date. Edward spends his money on the continuation of the project.
- At the beginning of last year, we walked at a good pace. In a month we visited five or six mountain villages in remote Irafsky and Alagirsky regions. Planned until August to fully implement the estimate of the project and go to study in residency in Moscow. But a pandemic has begun, says the doctor.
On the advice of more experienced colleagues, the project was paused. We decided not to risk the health of our team members and patients. But Edward himself went to the "red" zone for a month to provide assistance to covid patients.
“It was then that the head of North Ossetia, Vyacheslav Bitarov, promised medical graduates who worked during the pandemic to pay for residency at any Russian university,” he explains. - So I became a resident of the Central State Medical Academy of the Administrative Department of the President of Russia.
Now the dentist has a break in his Moscow studies. During his home visits, he decided to continue traveling to remote villages - the epidemic situation had just stabilized.
How to fall in love with a profession
The next patient lingers in the makeshift dental chair for a little while. It is impossible to help her on the spot, you need to go to Vladikavkaz. There, partner clinics are ready to treat patients from villages for free.
- Often people in remote villages do not follow the hygiene of the oral cavity. We plant children, but they do not know how to properly brush their teeth, - explains Eduard. - From here tartar and strong plaque, microbes multiply, caries and periodontal disease appear.
Therefore, volunteers not only treat, but also give advice on proper hygiene. True, at first, young specialists in the villages were afraid. At that time they did not know about the Dental Health project. Sitting in a chair to an inexperienced "toothbrush" was considered dangerous.
“Oh, young people, what are you going to do to us there,” people said,”says Eduard. - Then on the second, third, fourth exits, people began to rejoice, a line of 20-30 people gathered, we did not have time to work.
The dentist does not hide: the project is not only social, but also educational. Often, under the supervision of professionals, the villagers are treated by students - but always with the permission of the patients. This allows future doctors to gain experience.
- Reading books on dentistry and looking into the mouth are two different things. Until the third year I could not fall in love with this profession, it seemed that I made a mistake in my choice, - the doctor recalls. - And only thanks to the project, I and other students began to work by hand.
Reach the president
In Verkhnyaya Saniba, Eduard is assisted by two girls, who look like they are still students, but in fact they are practicing dentists. Colleagues and patients call Lisa Margieva a doctor with a "light" hand. She carries out even complex procedures painlessly.
“I asked to join the team of volunteers myself,” says Lisa. - I work for pleasure. We never take money for treatment, although sometimes they do offer it. The best thanks are kind words from patients.
And yet, almost every trip for a team of volunteers ends with a feast. This is how the villagers respond to doctors for help.
“We don’t need gratitude, but the attention, of course, is nice,” says Eduard. - There are always three pies on the table, they raise toasts to our health and always strive to leave us for the night.
For three years, Dental Health volunteers examined about three thousand residents of remote villages in North Ossetia, 700 people received free help. Now Edward plans to expand the geography to the entire republic, and then to cover the entire North Caucasus with the project. She also hopes to convey the idea of mobile dental surgeries to the President of the country.
In the meantime, he sometimes receives unexpected phone calls: after a year and a half, people say thank you and boast to the doctor that the filling is still holding.