Mobile Dental Services for At-Risk Populations (Using a Mobile Dental Clinic to Deliver Basic Dental Services in Nassau and Suffolk Counties)
Special Projects Fund
November 16, 2006
In 2009, approximately 250,000 residents of Nassau and Suffolk Counties were uninsured and living at incomes less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
In addition, many of those who did have health insurance, including the Medicare population, did not have dental benefits. For the elderly and others who are at low-income levels, lack of dental insurance creates a significant barrier to receiving oral health services. Access to dental care in these counties is further exacerbated by a lack of dental programs offering affordable fees based on income levels and/or accepting Medicaid. This project attempted to integrate oral health with systemic health by identifying high-risk populations who lack dental care, and delivering basic dental services to these populations using a Mobile Dental Clinic.
Dental health care on Long Island is scarce for the 250,000 residents, including 75,000 children, who either do not have health insurance or who have insurance coverage that lacks dental health benefits.
Even children who are enrolled in the Child Health Plus insurance plan for children of low-income families do not have access to dental care due to transportation difficulties. This grant to United Way of Long Island supports a program to deliver basic dental services to high-risk populations who typically do not get this type of care. In collaboration with Long Island Community Trust and the Hagedorn Foundation, the United Way secured funds to purchase a mobile dental unit. The NYHealth grant supports the United Way of Long Island’s partnership with North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System and the Department of Dental Medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Through this partnership, experienced providers of oral health services are caring for low-income populations. Major project activities include: (1) identification of at-risk patients who are uninsured or not insured for dental services; (2) delivery of basic dental services at a minimum of three locations across Long Island; (3) education about dental care and the importance of proper oral health; and (4) linkage of dental services with medical care in high-risk communities.