Community dentistry—and especially reducing disparities in oral health care for minorities and the underserved—has long been a hallmark of Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine.
That vital mission just received a boost from the Cleveland Foundation, whose board of directors approved a $200,000 grant to update and increase the functional capacity of the school’s community dental health care center.
Specifically, the grant will help improve the 45-year-old health center with modern technology, teaching and clinical techniques—an expansion that, among other goals, enhances the school’s community health programs and outreach. Improvements also will allow for greater efficiency, thereby increasing the center’s capacity to provide care.
“We are grateful and appreciative of the Cleveland Foundation’s gift,” said dental school Dean Jerold Goldberg. “Enhancing our facilities allows us to provide patients with excellent and compassionate care in a setting that reflects the quality of School of Dental Medicine’s best practices, educational programs and research.”
Case Western Reserve’s dental school, which enjoys national acclaim and recognition for curriculum reform and innovation, experiences high competition for enrollment, has seen research awards increase from $200,000 to more than $4 million per year and has increased philanthropic support by 250 percent over the last five years.
The center is the largest oral health safety-net provider in Northeast Ohio, with 85,000 patient visits and an estimated $5.2 million in care provided in 2012.
The dental school provides such community services as oral health education and examinations, preventive services, such as the Healthy Smile Sealant program for thousands of children, and referrals for children in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Each year, the dental school offers free checkups to more than 10,000 of Cleveland’s most vulnerable residents through its outreach program. Free dental clinics offered once a year have drawn as many as 400 to 500 patients in one day.
The dental school funding was among $15.3 million in second-quarter grants the foundation pledged to local nonprofit organizations for programs in economic development, public education reform, arts and culture, public health and other important areas.
“The Cleveland Foundation’s investment stands as a testament to its commitment to improving the health of the community,” said Simon Bisson, the dental school’s assistant dean of development and alumni relations. “This gift will benefit the students and patients, and we are grateful for the foundation’s support.”