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Press Release
March 15, 2006
John Nash
(843) 792-0687
Stephanie Oberempt
(843) 792-6933


MUSC opens, dedicates new dental simulation lab

(l-r) Aisic and Riva Hirsch, Felice and Dr. Harold Hirsch (CoDM, '83)

Charleston, SC - An alumnus of the College of Dental Medicine has named a new simulation lab in the college in honor of his parents, Holocaust survivors Aisic and Riva Hirsch.

The Aisic and Riva Hirsch Simulation Laboratory, located on the fifth floor of the Basic Science Building, is designed to recreate the environment dental students would encounter in an actual, functioning operatory. Each of the lab's 58 work stations is equipped with air, water and suction capabilities, as well as anatomically correct, ergonomically adjustable manikin heads, complete with lips, cheeks, gums and pre-fitted dentoforms that can be set up to mimic specific oral conditions. These "dental simulators" can provide real-time feedback and are capable of storing information, so that instructors can review student performance at a later time and provide constructive commentary.

These features are important, because they allow students to practice and refine dental techniques and procedures in a controlled environment, thus maintaining a high level of patient safety. Each work station also is equipped with a monitor, where students can observe procedures taking place at the head of the classroom.

"When I went to dental school, we had what we called 'pass-down' education," said College Dean Dr. John Sanders. "When instructors would show you something, only five or six students could actually see it, and it would then go from student to student. Now, with these monitors, every student is sitting in the front row."

The lab was named through a philanthropic contribution provided by Harold Hirsch, a Birmingham periodontist and 1983 graduate of the college whose gift helped renovate the lab. Dr. Hirsch currently serves on the Medical University's Health Sciences Foundation Board of Directors.

Dr. Hirsch made his gift in honor of his parents, both of whom were Holocaust survivors. After being orphaned during World War II, Aisic. Hirsch emigrated from his native Poland to Israel, where he later met Riva, whose surviving family members had immigrated from Romania. The couple married, started a family and in 1962 resettled in the United States. Even though both adults lacked the benefit of a formal education, they were determined to succeed in America and did everything they could to ensure that their two children would eventually earn a college degree.

"They both served as wonderful role models," said Dr. Hirsch, of his parents. "They both taught themselves English attending classes at night. Even though he was deprived of even a grade school education, my father is conversant in six or seven languages, all self taught. My mother is conversant in at least five languages. Both were ardent and strong supporters of a higher education for my sister and me."

Dr. Hirsch completed dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina in 1983 and subsequently opened a private periodontal practice in Cullman and Jasper, Alabama. In 1990, his parents relocated to Birmingham from their home in New Jersey. Since that time, Aisic Hirsch has served as clinical coordinator in charge of maintenance and inventory control in his son's dental practices.

Dr. Hirsch said he decided to make a gift to the new simulation lab at MUSC in recognition of his parents' extraordinary lives and the sacrifices they made in support of his education.

"They instilled in their children a zeal for life, a thirst for knowledge, and a spirit of altruism, and they have constantly reminded us of the need to give back," he said. "While I am excited to celebrate rather them memorialize them, I know that well after they might be gone their spirits will look over and after every dental student who will grace the simulation lab. It is my greatest singular honor to dedicate this wonderful facility in their name."

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