249378 Improving Access to Oral Health and Dental Care for Underserved Populations with Grant Making

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christina Wilds, DrPH, MPH, MEd, CHES , Highmark Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA
Abi Fapohunda, DrPH, MPH, MS , Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Behavioral & Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Dental safety-net providers such as Federally Qualified Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Center Look-alikes, community health clinics, rural health clinics, health departments, and hospitals with dental clinics have made great strides in improving oral health of low-income and vulnerable populations. However, many of these safety-nets lack adequate resources and the capacity to address barriers associated with good oral health. There have been calls to provide greater resources for these safety-net providers to build or strengthen their capacity to offer quality oral health programs and to reduce oral health disparities. With grants totaling $1.9 million, Highmark Foundation's Improving Access to Oral Health and Dental Care for Underserved Populations was an opportunity to assist dental safety-net providers with improving access to oral and dental health care for underserved populations. Through grant funding, 21 safety net providers implemented one of three strategies: (1) challenge grants to improve coordination and build capacity; (2) regional strategy to support geographic expansion of services; and (3) expand or improve existing dental equipment. To measure the effectiveness of the grants in meeting the needs of the safety net providers and the oral health needs of their patients, baseline and follow-up surveys were administered to safety net clinics administrators and dental staff. Results demonstrated that the initiative met its stated objectives. Grantees were successful in improving access to oral health and dental care, reducing emergency room patient visits, increasing referral rates, recruiting and retaining dental professionals, significantly decreasing no-show rates and most important, sustaining services.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1) Describe the role of foundations in addressing oral health disparities 2) Develop evidence-based strategies to removing barriers to oral health services for underserved populations 3) Identify the role of safety-net providers in oral health care delivery

Keywords: Oral Health, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present on this topic because I am a grantmaker with knowledge of philanthropy and the impact on health outcomes. I also contributed to the abstract and I teach graduate-level courses on health disparities and health disparities research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.