NeighborhoodFamily Practice (NFP) is one of 420 community health centers across the country to receive Federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration(HRSA) to increase access to integrated oral health care (dental) services and improve oral health outcomes for patients. This is a new service for patients that will be added later in 2016.
“Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,”said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the county.”
The most recent poverty numbers rank Cleveland as #2 in the United States among large cities. NFPs service area, which encompasses much of Cleveland’s near west side, includes many low-income residents who face serious challenges in accessing dental services.
“In Cuyahoga County, more than a third of adult residents have not visited a dentist in the last year, and more than 10% of children under age 18 have never visited a dentist,” says Jean Polster, RN, MS, president and chief executive officer of NFP. “NFP has existing referral relationships with safety-net dental providers to connect our patients to dental services. Unfortunately, capacity for those services is very limited.This funding will allow us to provide existing NFP patients who don’t have a regular source of dental care with access to dentistry services at our location.”
Within the next few months, NFP will hire a dentist, a dental hygienist and dental assistants to provide oral health services to both adults and children at its largest community health center office, located at 3569 Ridge Road in Cleveland.
Addition of these oral health services will expand the comprehensive range of services,which includes primary care, integrated behavioral health, and pregnancy care including the Centering group model, already available to NFP patients at the Ridge Road health center. Oral health services are also critically important to the growing refugee population served by NFP.
“At full capacity, which will take about two years, our dental program will serve approximately 1,650 patients via more than 3,000 visits,” says Polster. “A growing body of research shows that poor oral health leads to many other poor health outcomes in pregnancy and chronic diseases. We are thrilled to be able to expand access to this needed service.”