TRC receives federal grant to expand dental services in schools

A grant funded through the Affordable Care Act will enable The Resource Center and the Jamestown and Pine Valley school districts to improve the oral health of children.

As part of an $80 million ACA funding initiative, the Health Resources and Services Administration has announced that The Resource Center will receive a $133,322 grant. The money will be used to embed dental services within two school-based health centers currently operated by the agency. The SBHCs are located at Jamestown High School and Pine Valley Central Junior/-Senior High School

Services will be provided by a dental hygienist and will include dental screenings and referrals, education and preventive care such as the application of dental sealants when indicated.

The grant will provide the funding necessary for minor renovations, the purchase of dental equipment and supplies, and recruitment costs for the hygienist. Being able to provide these services will bring a more holistic approach to the children’s healthcare and will complement the existing primary health services currently offered at these locations.

“On behalf of the Resource Center’s board of directors, we are very pleased to receive this grant to extend dental services into our school-based health centers at Jamestown High School and Pine Valley Central School. The grant will help us provide convenient in-school oral health care to teens of modest economic means who have little access to dental care,” Dr. Todd Jacobson, the president of TRC’s board, said. “Good oral hygiene means more than a nice smile. Studies have shown links between gum disease and vascular diseases such as stroke and heart disease, as well as diabetes. Individuals with poor oral care are put at risk of invasion from bacteria in the mouth, predisposing to vascular-related diseases. Counseling and care in our school-based dental center can lead to the development of lifelong daily preventative habits of brushing, flossing and eating proper foods.”

“We are very excited because this grant continues to expand upon the alignment of organizations such as The Resource Center and entities such as Jamestown and Pine Valley schools,” Paul Cesana, TRC’s executive director, said. “This collaboration furthers the goals of the Affordable Care Act, which include providing early intervention on the preventive side that supports people’s health, instead of simply reacting with diagnostic treatment. Dental care is so critical to a person’s overall health, and problems need to be addressed at an early age. In our dental practices, we have seen many children of modest or poor economic means who have major oral health problems, often due to an inability to access dental services. Being able to provide preventive oral health care will mean a brighter future for many children.”

Steve Riczker, TRC’s director of health and health-related services, expressed excitement over receiving the grant.

“We anticipate that we will have the capacity to see hundreds of children each year who have significant needs in oral health care, which can potentially negatively affect their overall health as well as their academic participation and performance,” he said.

Officials from the two schools also were pleased at news of the grant award.

“The addition of dental services in our SBHC will be a welcomed one. What a great service to offer our students and families,” Mike McElrath, JHS principal, said. “In the end, anything we can do to help kids attend school more often, and maintain good health, is a plus. We’re thankful to have this connection with The Resource Center.”

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to offer dental services to our students,” Pete Morgante, PVCS superintendent, said. “We’ve already seen great results since The Resource Center and Pine Valley School District collaborated to open our school-based health center in 2011, and the ability to provide dental services will enable us to address the important issue of oral health care.”

There will be a close connection to The Resource Center’s existing dental practices, located in Jamestown and Dunkirk, for referrals and more involved treatment needs. For children receiving services from other dentists within the community, the SBHC dental staff will provide them with information and ongoing communication to ensure coordinated care is provided to their patients.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer was pleased that TRC will be able to expand its services to include preventive dental care.

“With these funds, The Resource Center can continue to bring quality health services to schools in Chautauqua County,” Schumer said. “The bottom line is that we need to ensure that our school children have access to top-notch medical care; the ACA funding for school-based health centers does just that and can really make a difference in the community.”

“We are very appreciative of Senator Schumer’s continued support for healthcare services,” Cesana said.

The ACA Grants for School-Based Health Centers Capital Program aims to provide effective, efficient and quality health care.

Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal will lead to improvements in access to health services for children at a school-based health center. To be eligible for the funding, applicants must certify that the SBHC serves a large population of children eligible for medical assistance under the State Medicaid plan.

The Resource Center has been providing a full array of dental services to the Chautauqua County area for more than 20 years and continues to be dedicated to the promotion of improved healthcare through its dental, primary care, mental health and health-related services. These comprehensive services include occupational, physical and speech therapies, along with podiatry and audiology services, including the provision of hearing aids.

The Resource Center’s Health Services has been recognized as a Level 3 Patient Centered Medical Home and has recently made available care coordination services that can assist patients in answering questions about their needs and provide them with assistance in accessing treatment or referrals for a wide variety of needs such as health, mental health, family, social, vocational and employment.