Last summer, Neighborhood Family Practice (NFP) was 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.
Thanks to that funding, dental services are now available to existing NFP patients at the Neighborhood Family Practice Ridge Community Health Center (3569 Ridge Road, Cleveland). NFP’s new dentist, Elsie Hinz, DDS conducted the health center’s very first dental exams on sisters Anaya Domanski and Nalea Tylor on Thursday, January 12.
“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. “In the past, NFP referred patients out for dental services, which had very limited capacity. With the addition of Dr. Hinz, a dental hygienist and dental assistants, existing NFP patients who didn’t have a source of dental care can now regularly see a dentist and receive dental services.”
Addition of these oral health services expands the comprehensive range of services, which includes primary care, women’s health and integrated behavioral health, already available to NFP patients at the Ridge Road Community 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 expand access to this needed service.