As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, we want to recognize some community organizations. Over the year, the DentaQuest Foundation reserves grant funds to respond to urgent equipment and capacity needs at care and prevention organizations. Without this assistance, many of these vital community health organizations might have had to limit what are often invaluable services for targeted communities. Here are some examples:
- Little City Foundation (Chicago), operating under the umbrella of the Center for Health and Wellness, provides specialized medical and oral health care for children and adults living with autism, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. It is the only on-site facility of its kind in Illinois. Little City Foundation has developed expertise in a desensitization process has been helpful in preparing clients before they receive oral health services. The agency’s dental hygienist has been demonstrating this model to peer agencies, school districts, individuals and families in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, helping more than 350 children a year. A Community Response Fund grant has enabled a part-time hygienist to extend this training to more caregivers, school districts and peer agencies.
- Bering Omega Community Service’s Oral Health Clinic (Texas) tends to the wellbeing of people affected by HIV/AIDS in Southeastern Texas. In 2013, the clinic cared for 2,500+ indigent and uninsured individuals. A grant from the Community Response Fund assisted with general operating costs so the clinic could continue to nurture and support patients with HIV/AIDS.
- As a teaching hospital, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center (Cleveland) is providing a new generation of healthcare providers with an excellent medical education and a passion for meeting the healthcare needs of their communities. A Community Response Fund grant supported a residency program for six young dentists, providing exposure to all phases of general dentistry, including anesthesia, internal medicine, general surgery, and emergency service. The Residence program provides comprehensive dental services to a diverse and low-income population.
- Elko Family Dental Center (Nevada Health Centers) is the largest resource for primary care for uninsured, underinsured, and geographically isolated people in Nevada —its rural and frontier clinics are often the only places where people can get healthcare without having to travel hundreds of miles. The Centers accept Medicaid and offer a sliding fee scale based on federal poverty levels. The Elko dental office has two dentists and previously only one functioning dental chair. A Community Response Fund grant added a second chair and helped the clinic reduce wait times and serve many more patients.
- Saban Community Clinic’s Comprehensive Dental Program (Los Angeles) provides oral health services to children and adults at two sites in Los Angeles. Many of Saban’s patients recently became eligible for the Denti-Cal program which added dental coverage for adults effective May, 2014. Anticipating a growing demand for dental services, Saban requested funding from the Community Response Fund to replace aging equipment.
- The Caring Hands Dental Clinic is recognized as a Minnesota Critical Access Dental Provider and a National Health Service Corp site. Its Mobile Outreach Hygiene Clinics provide x-rays, cleanings, exams, and fluoride treatments to residents of area nursing homes. Providing dental services where the patients live eliminates the stress and possible complications of transportation and has enabled the clinic to reach patients at additional nursing homes. A Community Response Fund grant offset the cost of supplies and travel.
- When the Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center (Boston) closed in 2013, thousands of patients might have been left without dental care options. Nearby Whittier Street Health Center (Boston) stepped in and has been transitioning RoxComp patients into their departments. The volume of newcomers to Whittier’s dental program resulted in backlogs with patients waiting for months to get a dental appointment. A Community Response Fund grant helped Whittier Street Health Center add dental chairs, expanding capacity, improving operational efficiencies, and increasing access to timely and cost-effective care in a high-need community.
The oral health community is made richer and stronger because of these community organizations and their efforts. While on the path toward larger-scale systems change with Oral Health 2020, the DentaQuest Foundation will continue to provide essential resources to address urgent community needs of underserved populations.