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Cincinnati opens state’s first in-school, sustainable dental clinic

October 21, 2013

By Kimber Solana, ADA News staff

Cincinnati—As dental care continues to be a major unmet health need in Ohio, a collaboration between public and private organizations is doing its part to expand access for hundreds of Cincinnati-area children.

The Cincinnati Health Department, the Cincinnati Dental Society's Oral Health Foundation, and about a dozen other partners, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 23 to celebrate the opening of the Delta Dental Center at Oyler School. It's set to be the first self-sustaining, in-school dental clinic in the state.

“The reality is that every day children in our schools miss learning opportunities because of dental pain,” said Dr. Marilyn Crumpton, director of School and Adolescent Health at the Cincinnati Health Department.

“This collaborative, public-private partnership will ensure treatment for many children and ultimately improve academic performance,” she said.

The clinic operates with three dental chairs and will serve 900 children (ages 0-18) a year from Oyler School and the surrounding community. By the third year, the clinic is expected to reach full capacity, providing service to more than 1,300 children.

The clinic from the K-12 school will be staffed with a full-time dentist, an expanded functions dental assistant, three dental assistants and a part-time dental hygienist.

Meanwhile, for three to four days per month, the Cincinnati Dental Society will staff the clinic with volunteer dentists and appropriate support staff to treat the uninsured.

The Cincinnati Dental Society has been providing free dental care to children for eight years. Joining the collaboration only made sense, said Vicki Nixon, Cincinnati Dental Society executive director.

“It was a natural progression to gain more access to children who are uninsured,” she said.

Other founding partners in the creation of the clinic are: Children's Oral Health Network; Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Cincinnati Public Schools; Community Learning Center Institute; Delta Dental Foundation; Growing Well Cincinnati; Interact for Health; Junior League of Cincinnati; Oyler School; and Procter & Gamble.

Founding partners made contributions to cover startup costs. However, for public-private partnership, sustainability was a top priority, said Dr. Patricia Walter, board member of the Cincinnati Dental Society's Oral Health Foundation.

The clinic will be self-sustaining due to the clinical efficiencies of both the volunteer and permanent staff teams. It will also qualify for enhanced reimbursement rates as an access point of a local Federally Qualified Health Center, said Rocky Merz, Cincinnati Health Department public information officer.

“Everyone left self-interest out the door, and we said, 'Let's do this together,'“ said Dr. Walter. “It was so important to all of us in the beginning that we're here for the long haul.”