May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Grant Spotlight

March 2012 Volume XLVIII Number 2

The story of Community DentCare started with a letter received from the principal of one of the local public schools in Washington Heights in northern Manhattan. The letter asked for help. The principal explained that she had children with toothaches sitting outside her office with no place to send them for treatment. She said this was a common occurrence and she was turning to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) for a solution to this problem. This letter and similar sentiments from other principals and community leaders led the CDM to expand its mission to focus on patient care both within its teaching clinics and in the community.

The first Community DentCare clinic was opened in 1996 at Intermediate School 143 and in the sixteen years since then the network has grown to meet the needs of children in Washington Heights/ Inwood, Harlem, and the Bronx with the entire program functioning in the federally designated dental manpower shortage area surrounding the CDM. The backbone of CDM’s Community DentCare program is a network of seven school-based dental clinics that provide a range of services in public schools. The overall goal of Community DentCare’s school-based programs is to increase and improve access to quality dental care, enhance the detection and treatment of dental disease and promote oral health through dental education and an emphasis on dental hygiene. Last year, the school-based clinics provided over 14,000 dental visits to this underserved population.

For eight years, CDM’s Mobile Dental Center has served as the dental home for over 65 different locations, including Head Start Programs and day care centers located throughout the communities of Washington Heights/Inwood, Harlem and the Bronx. The Mobile Dental Center has provided over 2,950 visits to underserved children in the last year, and is fully equipped with two treatment rooms, X-ray equipment, a waiting and oral education area and a handicapped-accessible chair lift.

"We are very pleased and excited to receive a Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children Access to Care grant," said Dr. Stephen Marshall, senior associate dean at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine. "These funds will greatly assist us in providing care to the children of northern Manhattan through our Community DentCare Network. During these difficult financial times, we are grateful for the support provided by the Access to Care grant which will assist us in improving the oral health of our community."

CDM has slated use of its $17,000 HSHC funding for the replacement of equipment that has reached the end of its useful life. The organization is hopeful that the HSHC Access to Care grant will raise the profile of its Community DentCare program, and lead to additional fundraising and partnering opportunities.