Continuing Legacy of Support in Laredo

Kara Whittington, D.D.S. and Maria Minerva Garcia, D.D.S.
Kara Whittington, D.D.S., second-year pediatric dental resident (left), examines a patient with Maria Minerva Garcia, D.D.S., who holds the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health.

While the School of Dentistry has a longtime tradition of providing dental education and oral health care in South Texas, the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust marks 10 years of supporting the Dental Health Clinic, which is a partnership between the City of Laredo Health Department and the dental school. During this time, the trust has awarded $3.3 million to this worthy effort.

In 2008, the School of Dentistry initiated the Pediatric Dentistry Residency Training Programs at the Laredo Health Department. These programs were created to address the compelling need for health care providers as well as dental care in Laredo and throughout South Texas.

Because of the financial support from the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust, faculty, pediatric residents, general residents, dental students and dental hygiene students have provided care for more than 60,000 adults and children since 2009.

The dental team also cares for complex and emergency cases where procedures are performed in the hospital setting. Through a partnership with Laredo Medical Center, the dental team has provided emergency dental care to 859 patients in its hospital.

The trust’s support has allowed 34 pediatric residents to graduate from the program. One former resident has opened a private practice in Laredo while two more opened practices in South Texas. The trust also has allowed 600 dental students to rotate through the Laredo clinics.

The Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust made a substantial commitment to education and oral health care in Laredo in 2008 when it awarded $2 million to UT Health San Antonio to establish the Lamar Bruni Vergara Trust Distinguished University Chair in Oral Health, in appreciation of The Honorable Solomon Casseb, Jr. and Mr. Joseph C. Martin, III, Trustees.

Since its inception, the chair has been held by Maria Minerva Garcia, D.D.S. Class of 2000, clinical assistant professor and director of the Pediatric Dentistry Program in Laredo.

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In the 2019 issue of Salute

Salute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our dental alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

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