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Austintown students have reason to smile

December 2, 2011
By Kathleen Palumbo
Nearly 486,000 of Ohio’s children are without dental insurance, and almost 340,000 children in Ohio have never visited a dentist, according to startling statistics provided by Dr. Frank Beck, program director of the General Practice Dental Residency Program at Humility of Mary Health Partners.

Through its partnership with Humility of Mary Health Care, which will offer comprehensive dental care to elementary students within the district, the board of Austintown Local Schools has in effect given every elementary student within the district a reason to smile.

At its recent meeting, the board of education approved the partnership that will bring the Smile Station to the districts schools beginning in February. The unit is staffed by a team of dentists and a hygienist, who will make available dental procedures such as preventative dental care exams, x-rays, and cleanings, fillings, extractions sealants, and even referrals, should surgical procedures be warranted.

Attendees of the Board of Education meeting were also able to view drawings of what will be the second mobile unit operated by Humility of Mary, and which will feature two dental rooms and a central waiting area.

Made possible through the district’s receipt of $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Affordable Care Act (earmarked for health-related services) school Superintendent Vince Colaluca announced that after the board approved the resolution, the district would open bidding for its own mobile medical unit.

“The dental needs of our community are greatly underserved,” said Beck, who added that children will have access to care whether they have insurance or not, and that the mobile dental unit serves as a marriage of community service with the education of the communities residents.

Sharing that the number one emergency diagnosis in the HMHP emergency department continues to be dental care services, information provided by Beck said that the Mobile Dental Clinic is their means of creating a presence to eliminate such unnecessary visits by alleviating obstacles to dental care, such as access and awareness.

In keeping with its goal of improving access to oral health care in the tri-county area, 85 percent of its usage is targeted for children.

"The purpose and intent of the program is getting to the children early," said Beck.

The Mobile Dental Clinic is also meeting a population of adults at area clinics and health fairs.

Article Photos

At its recent meeting, the Austintown Board of Education approved the partnership with Humility of Mary Health Care, which will offer comprehensive dental care to elementary students within the district. Pictured are Dr. Frank Beck, program director; team members Stephanie Guy, dental coordinator; and Nancy Lesniewski, manager.



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