Monday, March 8, 2010 2:03 PM

Dental center named for longtime Community dentist driven to care for underserved

Stanley Surabian, D.D.S. was raised in a neighborhood near the former University Medical Center campus where he established his dental career as director of the residency program, and now a transformational gift from he and his wife Cheryl will help raise Community Medical Centers’ dental services to a new level.

Stanley Surabian, D.D.S. standing with dental residents, Dr. Rosaura Pacheco (left) and Dr. Regina Nguyen (right).

The couple’s gift will go toward the outpatient dental clinic to provide care for the disadvantaged and underserved. The clinic is set to move to the new Deran Koligian Ambulatory Care Center this summer, and will be named the Surabian Dental Center in honor of Dr. Surabian’s longtime service.

“We are extremely excited about this gift.” said Robyn Gonzales, associate administrator  for Community Regional Medical Center. “Dr. Surabian is a huge advocate of the dental residency program and we appreciate all he does for patients in the Valley.” 

Located on the Community Regional Medical Center campus on the southwest corner of McKenzie Avenue and Herwaldt Drive, the new 79,534-square-foot ambulatory care center is set to open for patients on March 29. Services moving include children’s health, family health, adult health, internal medicine, women’s health, eye care (ophthalmology), oral maxillofacial surgery, special services (HIV/AIDS), pharmacy and MISP. Clinics remaining at Community Health Center-Cedar (formerly UMC) are dental services, diabetes and asthma education. The ambulatory care building will feature 104 exam rooms, an X-ray room and three lab drawing stations. Dr. Surabian’s gift will go toward state-of-the-art equipment and provide waiting room and office furniture and new computers for the residents.

“The dental residency program is a part of a great legacy begun by unnamed dental society volunteers 63 years ago,” Dr. Surabian said. “Our firm belief is that this legacy must be acknowledged and preserved.” Dr. Surabian has created quite a legacy himself at Community. He is an associate clinical professor of the University of the Pacific (UOP), Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, San Francsico and a diplomate of the American Board of Special Care Dentistry.

“He is a longtime supporter of dental services for the underserved and has made an impact on the Valley over the years,” said Rob Saroyan, chief development officer for Community Medical Foundation. “This gift is the latest in his philanthropic generosity and commitment to health care in the region.”

As director of Community's dental residency program, the only such program in the San Joaquin Valley, dental residents gain experience with medical conditions and situations that will test and increase their knowledge and experience. During the 12-month program, residents participate in general dentistry, oral and maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, internal medicine and anesthesia rotations at Community, Veterans Administration Central California Health Care System and select skilled nursing facilities.

The residency program was created to train future generations of dentists in hopes many of them choose to stay and practice in the Valley, historically one of the most underserved health care regions of California. Dr. Surabian built his career in the neighborhood he grew up in and has been practicing dentistry at the Cedar Avenue campus since 1972.

“As a child, I stood in line at the red brick public health department building on Cedar Avenue to receive the first Polio vaccine,” Surabian said. After serving as a private practitioner for more than 20 years, Dr. Surabian became chief of dental services and residency program director in 1996. “I had a long tenure on the medical staffs of both Community and Fresno County through Valley Medical Center (VMC) [former UMC],” Dr. Surabian said. “The general practice residency was started in 1975 and it has expanded and continued since that time.”

Dr. Surabian is giving give back more than just his time and expertise to Community. “I believe the interactions among the entire workforce at Community contribute to the well being and preservation of good health among our population,” Dr. Surabian said. “Our dental clinic personnel receive my greatest thanks for their good humor, continuing loyalty and ongoing hard work.”

“My parents instilled in John, my older bother, and I the goal to first get as much education as possible, then succeed by doing our best, and give back,” Dr. Surabian said.

Stanley and Cheryl Surabian were married before he attended the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, and have three children and four grandsons all raised in the Fresno area.

“The Surabian Dental Center represents our family name inclusively,” he said. “Our grandparents, who came to this country to overcome oppression, and our parents, who were born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley, are part of the family’s legacy.  We are proud to be stewards of their ideals and perseverance during very difficult times.”

For more information on how to give, visit Community Medical Foundation or call (559) 459-2670.

This story was reported by Rebecca Wass and Eddie Hughes. They can be reached at