Okemos, Michigan — The Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) today announced the creation of the COVID-19 Dental Equipment Fund. The $400,000 fund will help safety-net dental organizations in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana purchase COVID-19 related dental supplies and equipment—making it easier for more people to safely access dental care.
“Our goal is to ensure the most vulnerable can access dental care when they need it rather than going without— or visiting an emergency department,” said Holli Seabury, executive director of the DDF. “Hospitals are rapidly approaching capacity fighting COVID-19, making it imperative that we divert patients who should be treated elsewhere.”
Safety-net dental clinics are often the only way Medicaid beneficiaries and uninsured or underinsured people can access dental care. Without these critical organizations, hospital emergency departments are often the only option for care in the event of a dental emergency.
Because of the pandemic, many safety-net dental clinics are operating at limited capacity. The COVID-19 Dental Equipment Fund can help providers retrofit their practices with necessary equipment, such as air purifiers to control aerosols, enabling them to reopen, extend hours, and—importantly—see more patients.
Grant funds may also be used to purchase equipment to support teledentistry, which offers patients access to a dental provider through a secure platform in their own home or at a local clinic. Teledentistry allows dental professionals to assess and triage patients while limiting in-office visits and conserving personal protective equipment.
“The applications for teledentistry extend well beyond the pandemic,” said Dr. Jeff Johnston, senior vice president and chief science officer, Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. “Teledentistry can help reduce wait times and makes it easier to provide specialist referrals, conduct outreach, and offer care to patients in remote locations.”
Qualified applicants include federally qualified health centers, community health departments, school-based dental centers, volunteer clinics, and other safety-net dental clinics. Recipients will be selected based on need and the population they serve.