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Delta Dental Foundation announces first round of COVID-19 emergency assistance funding

Okemos, MichiganThe Delta Dental Foundation announced its initial round of funding from its $500,000 COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund.

Funding was awarded to organizations that provide oversight to networks of federally qualified health centers and safety-net clinics including Michigan Primary Care Association, My Community Dental Centers, Ohio Association of Community Health Centers and Indiana Primary Health Care Association. Each received $50,000 grants.

In addition, the emergency dental clinics at University of Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Indiana University were each awarded $15,000.

Dentists nationwide have been asked to close their practices and open only to treat dental emergencies, however, many Americans do not have a dental home, leading many to seek care at hospital emergency departments.

“Our safety-net dental systems need help so they can continue providing emergency dental care and alleviate the burden on hospital emergency departments during this pandemic,” said Holli Seabury, executive director of the Delta Dental Foundation. “With the high level of layoffs and job losses, many people are now uninsured and are facing financial instability. Safety-net dental clinics accept Medicaid and also offer a sliding fee scale based on income."

The Indiana Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA) is using their funding to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) to distribute across the state. Karla Marin Muskus, oral health program director for the IPHCA, said since so many clinics don’t have the budget to account for the massive increase in the cost of PPE, they’re acting as a central distribution channel.

"It’s much more time and cost effective to have the central primary care association doing this and distributing to all the FQHC dental clinics in the state, rather than each dental clinic trying to do this themselves,” Marin Muskus said. “This an unprecedented public health disaster, and stocks of personal protective equipment for health care providers are being used rapidly."

The COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund is still accepting applications from nonprofits who have a health and wellness focus, provide emergency food assistance or provide dental services.

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