Paul Ro, D.D.S, and his wife Marina Monsisvais are two of El Paso’s biggest cheerleaders and proponents of what the Sun City has to offer.
That’s why it’s no surprise they’ve partnered with the Hunt School of Dental Medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso by giving a generous financial gift to the Dental Dean’s Excellence Fund.
The gift, announced this week in honor of National Dentist’s Day on March 6, will be used to equip a dental suite in the new Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic. The suite will be named Rosisvais, a combination of their last names and a name they’re known by with friends and family. The funds will also support scholarships, specialized equipment and patient care.
Dr. Ro helped interview and screen students for the dental school’s inaugural class and was on the curriculum and accreditation committee. He graduated in 1999 from Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in Southern California and moved to El Paso that year.
“After graduation, I wanted to work in an underserved area,” Dr. Ro said. “The El Paso region fit the bill, and many dental clinics in the area qualified for a student loan repayment program. It was a real win-win. Once I got here, I fell in love with the Borderland and made it my new home.”
Monsisvais, founder and CEO of Barracuda Public Relations, and her husband have long been some of El Paso’s biggest advocates.
“Marina and I are for anything that brings growth and improvement to our city, and the Hunt School of Dental Medicine is an exciting addition to El Paso,” Dr. Ro said. “The students will also be future colleagues, so it will be great to introduce them to our dental community.”
Monsisvais thinks the dental school is a great gift to the community.
“We believe that the growth and prosperity of our city depends on creating professionals and providing them a place to live and work. El Paso is primed for this,” Monsisvais said. ”We have a great need for dental professionals in our community, and we believe the dental school is a crucial driver in educating dentists who will fall in love with our community and its people, and choose to practice here. If they decide not to stay here, it’s still a win-win, as we’ll create advocates for our community who can share that we’re a great city with an excellent health sciences center.”
The clinic will give Hunt School of Dental Medicine students experience caring for patients under the close supervision of faculty, while providing a much-needed service for the community. The clinic’s mission is to improve the accessibility of oral health care and will offer reduced-cost dental care to the public.
“It’s important for students to get as much clinical experience as possible while in school,” Dr. Ro said. “Hunt School of Dental Medicine students will see patients starting their first semester. When I was in dental school, we didn’t start seeing patients until the second year, and experience was minimal, which is generally the norm for dental schools. Students here will have plenty of clinical experience above the norm before they graduate.”
When complete, the 38,000-square-foot clinic will be equipped with 130 treatment chairs and is expected to be the top dental-care destination, not only for the public, but for faculty, staff, students and their families.
Lack of dental care is a public health concern that affects all residents of Texas. In children and adolescents in particular, the lack of dental upkeep impacts daily productivity and is linked to malnutrition, school absences and lower academic performance. When initial signs of oral health issues are not addressed in adolescents, other health-related conditions and complications can progress throughout adulthood.
“It’s rewarding to play a small role in establishing a dental school in our city,” Monsisvais said. “I live vicariously through Paul, as he’s had the tremendous opportunity to interview some of our prospective students. I can’t wait to meet them and show them all the great food, great music and places El Paso has to offer.”
The Texas Tech Dental Oral Health Clinic is the clinical arm of the Hunt School of Dental Medicine, which will welcome its first class of students in July 2021. The Hunt School of Dental Medicine is the first dental school to open in Texas in over 50 years and the only in West Texas and the Paso del Norte region.
In El Paso County, there’s only one dentist for every 4,840 residents, compared to the national average of one dentist for every 1,638. TTUHSC El Paso’s mission is dedicated to addressing these disparities by educating the future of health care and providing world-class patient care.