The Board of Trustees of the New York State Dental Foundation last week voted in favor of awarding not one, not two, but six applicants for its Give Kids a Smile Award.
Earlier this year, the Foundation Board established a $5,000 award to be given annually to a community health center or service program which seeks to build, expand or enhance education, access and/or capacity with respect to oral health care for children. The New York State Dental Foundation Give Kids a Smile Award was inspired in part by the American Dental Association’s efforts to help children get the dental care that they so desperately need and to raise awareness that our children deserve a better health care system that addresses their dental health needs.
In determining which of several entries should receive the award, the Board asked these questions:
Who is setting higher standards of oral health care and quality to better meet the challenges of the future?
Who is driving innovation in oral health care delivery and improving oral health outcomes within our communities?
Who is demonstrating the type of leadership and advocacy that is moving New York State in new directions to meet the oral health care needs of children?
Does the potential nominee target education, screening and prevention, and access objectives in its parameters?
The Board voted in favor of awarding a $5,000 NYSDF/GKAS award to each of the following applicants:
Bethel Head Start – Bethel Head Start encompasses 12 locations throughout the impoverished neighborhoods of Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Depew. Within the last several years, Bethel Head Start has demonstrated its support and endorsement of the significance of oral health by establishing preventative and clinical dental programs for their children. Improving access to oral health has been a high priority to meet the needs of these children, and some of the ways in which this has been accomplished include educating parents and children as early as possible, forming a Health Advisory Board to address the medical, mental and dental needs of their children, mandating dental screenings prior to enrollment and establishing preventive and restorative programs. In working off the medical model, Bethel Head Start created an innovative way of educating the children on the importance of oral health and how it relates to overall health.
BMS Dental Expansion Project – Established in 1982 as an Article 28 family health center, the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center (BMS) is uniquely responsive to the health care needs of the residents of Brownsville, Ocean Hill and East New York. Today, BMS is a comprehensive health and wellness facility, and t he only freestanding health center in Brooklyn to be accredited by the Joint Commission. BMS intends to meet the increasing needs of their patients through two means: 1) the expansion of their dental care facilities in a 1,700 square foot space on the ground floor of their Genesis Homes supportive housing facility at 330 Hinsdale Street in East New York and 2) the introduction of a Dental Assistant Training (DAT) program to meet the steadily growing industry and community demand for trained dental assistants. This latter program is being implemented in partnership with the World Academy for Total Community Health, a small, New Century, health-themed high school, and was designed with the aim of preparing and encouraging these students to pursue careers as dental assistants. The proposed dental expansion component of the project will provide additional sorely needed dental care, especially for children, in the community served. In 2005, BMS provided health care and oral health care services to more than 20,000 individuals. The NYSDF/GKAS award will help BMS continue to reach its goal of caring for its ever increasing community needs.
Fulton County Public Health Dental Clinic – The Fulton County Public Health Dental Clinic has been an advocate and promoter of children’s dental health for more than a quarter century. Initially, the clinic provided dental exams and oral hygiene instruction to children from low income and Medicaid families, as well as Head Start children. In the early 1990s, two dental operatories were added and the clinic hired a part time hygienist and dentist, enabling it to incorporate preventive, radiographic, restorative and basic dental surgical procedures. Throughout the decade, thousands of local under privileged children received dental health education and care that they otherwise could probably have not received except through hospital emergency care. In 2001, Fulton County Public Health received a five year grant from the New York State Department of Health to extend their dental service into the local schools. Once a week during the school year, two members of the hygiene staff have visited a school and done screenings and sealants; children requiring additional care wee referred to their dentist of to the clinic. In this period, Fulton County went from having only 27 percent of its school children seen by a dentist to more than 86 percent. However, the program’s success had the ironic effect of causing delays of over six months in scheduling treatment. Unfortunately, by program end, the State Health Department no longer had funding available to continue this most cost effective and important program. Fulton County Public Health Dental Clinic plans to use their NYSDF/GKAS award to re-establish the school based preventive dental health care screenings, as well as to possibly help fund the addition of a part time dentist.
Cerebral Palsy of Chemung County/Jerry Kohena Dental Clinic – Cerebral Palsy and Handicapped Children’s Association of Chemung County has a long history of providing high quality services to individuals with disabilities in the Southern Tier. The Jerry Kohena Dental Clinic, which began providing services in January 2006, serves patients with cognitive, developmental, physical and emotional behavior (as well as other) limitations. Among the dental services provided by the clinic are restorations, extractions, space maintainers, pulpotomy, and fixed and removable prosthetics. Hygiene services are prophylaxis, fluoride treatment, x-rays and sealants. This handicapped accessible clinic incorporates chairs and equipment intended to accommodate patients with all manner of disabilities; the dentist scan work around wheelchairs, for instance, instead of having to move a patient from the wheelchair to a dentist’s chair. Prior to the opening of this clinic, people with developmental disabilities often traveled as far away as Binghamton or Rochester for dental care.
Seal a Smile – Seal a Smile provides education and preventive care to pre-school and elementary school aged children throughout the Capital District. With a primary focus on children who have limited or no access to dental care, Seal a Smile brings preventive care services to the schools, thereby eliminating the problem of access. For those children who need restorative care, Seal a Smile has partnered with providers to try to get necessary treatment completed. Last year, the program treated more than 3,000 children in the Capital District (this is in addition to the more than 12,700 children received oral health education from the Seal a Smile program). There can be no question that the education and early intervention provided through the application of preventive dental care will improve the oral health futures of these at risk children.
St. Peter’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile – Launched in 2006, the St. Peter’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile addresses dental care barriers such as transportation, access to a dentist or dental hygienist, and lost work time by bringing a fully-staffed dental office to City of Albany elementary schools. The program increases screening, cleaning, sealant and education resources available to this community’s most disadvantaged children. The mobile program consists of both prevention and treatment of active dental disease, including: initial exam and radiographs services; prophylaxis and fluoride services; sealants on all eligible permanent molars, and restorative and/or urgent dental care including fillings, extractions, endodontics, and prosthodontics services. Additioanlly, the program incorporates dental education and outreach, with a hygienist providing education services on topics including: Oral Hygiene Instructions; Safety, Sports and Mouth Guards; Nutritional Counseling and Caries Control; Tooth Friendly Foods, and Tooth Exfoliation. Active demonstrations on proper dental care, videos, interactive games and reading materials make the sessions memorable, interactive and benefical. In the fourth quarter of 2006, the St. Peter’s Hospital Ronald McDonald Care Mobile provided cleanings and fluoride treatments to 215 students; provided 398 sealants, and conducted 83 extractions, 11 pulpotomies and 561 cavity fillings. Forty one percent of the students were covered by Medicaid; 32 percent were managed care; 10 percent had private insurance, and 17 percent were uninsured. Among the Dental Care Mobile’s future goals is to expand the number of oral health screenings, sealants and dental caries interventions to 6,072 yearly; to increase Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus enrollment by referring 100 percent of uninsured children and their families who receive oral health interventions to a Facilitated Enrollment Program for public health insurance; to decrease absenteeism of students due to dental health issues, and to provide educational programs in all grades, school assemblies and PTA meetings in targeted schools and selected community organizations.