Okemos, Michigan—The Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) today announced the recipients of the COVID-19 Dental Equipment Fund. More than $400,000 was awarded to 43 safety-net dental clinics in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana.
“The extraordinary number of applications we received highlights the crisis so many safety-net dental clinics are facing,” said Holli Seabury, executive director of the DDF. “Many of these organizations have been operating at reduced capacity, and we’re grateful the DDF’s resources can help improve access to care.”
The “health care safety net” is a blanket phrase used to describe health care organizations that deliver care to people who might otherwise be unable to access or afford it. This includes individuals who are uninsured, underinsured, covered by Medicaid or underserved in another critical way. The COVID-19 Dental Equipment Fund will help these safety-net dental clinics purchase additional personal protective equipment, retrofit their practices with equipment to control aerosols and update sterilization equipment. The goal? Care for more patients, safely.
“Patients’ oral health care has been interrupted and postponed during the pandemic,” said Dr. Anna Novais, dental director of the Cincinnati Health Department. “By optimizing air management controls in dental operatories, we will be able to increase access to restorative and emergency dental treatment in addition to ensuring continuity of care.”
Dental Clinics North, which provides care to low-income and underserved people who might not otherwise receive it, underscores the necessity of the funding. “The pandemic has made it increasingly difficult to uphold our mission due to high demand and amplified cost for PPE and COVID-19 dental equipment,” said Pearline Bailey, director of clinical operations, Dental Clinics North. “The safety of our employees and patients is our number one priority. Grant funding has allowed us to continue keep our doors open. The Delta Dental Foundation has been instrumental in our ability to provide a safe environment and needed oral health care to northern Michigan communities.”
Safety-net clinics are also serving the people and populations who have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. “The COVID-19 Dental Equipment grant will enable us to provide risk-reduced dental care for a community that includes a preponderance of Hispanic, immigrant, uninsurable, and economically challenged people,” said Dr. James Nelson Gingerich, guardian of vision, Maple City Health Care Center.
Qualified applicants included federally qualified health centers, community health departments, school-based dental centers, volunteer clinics, and other safety-net dental clinics. Recipients were selected based on need and the population they serve.