The American Dental Association`s Council on Access, Prevention, and Interprofessional Relations recently honored programs giving medical attention to the underprivileged and elderly.
In the category of Geriatric Oral Health Care, the Boston University School of Dental Medicine Geriatric Consult Service was awarded the Highest Award by the council for its work with older adults in the Boston area. The consulting service provides care for frail, homebound older adults in Boston and its suburbs who do not have access to routine dental services. The program was created in 1984 and provides initial dental evaluations, cleanings, and home-based fabrication of complete and partial dentures. Providers work with case managers to arrange transportation to the dental school for patients for whom home services are not appropriate.
A meritorious award was given to a New York City-based program that provided access to comprehensive oral health care services to a group of elderly and poor Russian-speaking immigrants. Between September 1997 and December 1998, 30 individuals completed a comprehensive course of treatment from Russian-speaking New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) students. To ensure continuity of care, each patient was assigned to one student, under close faculty supervision, for the entire course of treatment. The patients received a wide range of dental treatment, including surgical, endodontic and restorative, and oral hygiene education. NYUCD also provided bus transportation for patients to and from their weekly appointments.
In the category of Community Preventive Dentistry, Denver`s Inner City Health Center (ICHC) was honored with the Highest Award. The volunteer-based ICHC was established in 1983 and provides medical and dental care and counseling services to the medically uninsured and low-income families living in metropolitan Denver. Patients pay on a sliding fee scale, according to their ability to pay.
ICHC`s dental clinic provides dental screenings to adults and children, dental education in prevention and maintenance, hypertension screening, oral cancer detection and referral for treatment, evaluation for child and spousal abuse, smoking and tobacco cessation programs, and complete dental care, including all aspects of restorative dentistry. New clients must take a preventive oral hygiene course, which is offered one day a month.
In addition, ICHC and its dental program also provide structured job training to students working toward becoming dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, and dental receptionists.
A meritorious award was given to the Hope Dental Clinic, located in Ypsilanti, Mich., a stand-alone nonprofit agency that provides basic preventive and restorative dental care to those without any dental insurance or resources. Those served by the clinic include school children (ages 3 and up), homeless adults, senior citizens, the working poor, and participants in local social service programs. The clinic charges an annual $20 fee, which is waived if the patient is unable to pay.
Also presented with a meritorious award was the Lewis and Clark County Cooperative Dental Health Center Dental Clinic in Helena, Mont. It was established in 1994 to provide cost-efficient, quality dental care to the residents of the community who otherwise could not afford treatment and preventive care. Patients are charged for their services on a sliding fee scale based on their income. The minimum fee is $4, although no one is refused care because of an inability to pay.
Another meritorious award was given to OPTIONS (Ohio Partnership To Improve Oral health through access to Needed Services). The program, offered by the Ohio Dental Association and the Ohio Department of Health, links people in need with dentists who have agreed to treat qualified patients for reduced or donated fees. The program was officially established on a statewide basis on July 1, 1997 and, as of May 1999, 660 Ohio dentists were participating.