The Lewis and Clark Community College Mobile Dental Health Unit will be at HSHS St. Francis Hospital on Wednesday, November 29, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This mobile health unit is staffed with professional dental providers to provide high quality, comprehensive exams, and preventative services for adults 18 years of age and older. This community event is sponsored by HSHS St. Francis Hospital and is a part of the hospital’s strategic plan to better meet the needs of access to dental care in the hospital’s service area.
Meghan Bertolino, the hospital’s community outreach facilitator explained, “The hospital’s FY2015 Community Health Needs Assessment determined that the need for dental care was one of the top three priorities for individuals in this service area. Over the past few years, the hospital developed a strategic plan and goals related to access to dental care in our service area.”
Bertolino added, “We have had great success with our dental outreach programs. Our collaboration with the Lewis and Clark Community College Mobile Dental Unit is just one of the programs we have implemented over the past few years to help meet our goals. In 2016, data indicated a significant drop in visits to the emergency department related to dental issues. Since 2012, emergency department visits related to dental issues have declined more than 70 percent. Other dental outreach has included partnering with local dentists during community dental days as well as working with Catholic Charities on a Dental Voucher Program. The voucher program was launched in January 2016 with the assistance of Catholic Charities. Adults who need emergency tooth extractions can find relief from the burden of paying for emergency dental and oral surgery services.”
Charles Kneedler is an instructor at Lewis and Clark and a dentist who travels with the mobile dental health unit. He said, “This is a great service. We are so fortunate to have the dentists in our area participate in our program. I am proud of Lewis and Clark and St. Francis Hospital’s dental program. It has made a difference and it shows in the statistics.” He added that providing these dental programs help individuals within the community receive the best procedures for their dental issues. It also helps in the learning process for the students. He explained that he diagnoses the dental issues and then the dental hygiene students provide the treatment plan for the patient. “It’s a win-win,” he said.
The mobile unit is on site at HSHS St. Francis Hospital four times a year. Dental exams and x-rays, cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments are offered. The low-cost preventative dental services are provided for adults 18 years of age and older. The mobile health unit’s professional dental providers and staff include Charles Kneedler, dentist; Tiffany Kosydor, dental hygienist, and Sharon Walker, intake coordinator.
Bertolino explained that ongoing dental education is also a part of the program for the community. “We also increased the awareness in and education of the impact of personal oral hygiene practices related to improved dental health. The hospital provided 500 dental kits along with dental education which was distributed in 2016 at the hospital’s St. Clare Center Food Pantry. The kits included a soft head toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and two small bottles of mouthwash. Information on the dental voucher program was placed in each kit. Multiple people stated they had dentures or had no teeth so they anticipated giving the kit to a friend or family member,” Bertolino said. “The goals of our program included reducing emergency department visits related to oral health care and educating individuals on the importance of personal oral hygiene practices for improved dental health. We are very proud to say that we have accomplished these goals.”
“We are very happy to partner with Lewis & Clark to provide the mobile dental service to the community. It also helps students in the dental hygiene program at the college by providing clinical hours. They also are able to send complex patients to their college unit for further work and care. This along with the positive trending to decrease the visits to our emergency department proves the program has been one that has benefited many different community partners, business partners and — most of all — those people in need,” said Bertolino.