New unit increases access for area’s needy children
On Friday, November 16, the Eastman Dental Center unveiled the new Ronald McDonald House Charities SMILEmobile, a dental office on wheels allowing the city’s children increased access to much needed dental care.
Until now, the Eastman Dental Center has had three SMILEmobiles serving preschoolers and elementary students by visiting 15 city schools. Thousands of the underserved and uninsured children need dental care because of decay and infection. On the SMILEmobiles, children receive cleanings, fluoride, sealants and other restorative services. The new Ronald McDonald House Charities SMILEmobile means that 2,400 additional students will now have access to care. Each SMILEmobile is staffed with a dentist, hygienist, dental assistant and administrative coordinator.
Rochester’s inner city has the highest child poverty rate in all of New York, and parts of the city have been declared as having a serious shortage of dentists by the federal government,” said Cyril Meyerowitz, DDS, director of the Eastman Dental Center. “Early intervention is critical—and the SMILEmobiles are a huge part of the solution. Without this effort, there would be more cost to the local health care system, more work and school hours lost and more children suffering.”
Oral health problems are one of the leading causes of absenteeism from school. Research shows links between poor oral health and diabetes, heart disease, and low birth weight. Recent studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that tooth decay in young children’s baby teeth is on the rise. When there’s decay in baby teeth, there’s a better chance of decay occurring in adult teeth.
“Supporting the SMILEmobile program makes perfect sense for us,” said Elsa Steo, board president of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester, NY, which provided the lead gift for the unit. “Supporting the health and well being of Rochester area children is a wonderful expansion of who we are and what we do…we’re thrilled to be a part of this new SMILEmobile. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The second lead donor is the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation, a long time supporter of the SMILEmobile program and a satellite clinic at the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation Outreach Dental Center at School 17. Others include the Joan & Harold Feinbloom Supporting Foundation, the J.M. McDonald Foundation, the Mary S. Mulligan Charitable Trust and the Fred & Floy Willmott Foundation.
The SMILEmobile program began 40 years ago, when EDC and the County Dental Society jointly implemented the “Indigent Children’s Dental Health Care Program,” leading to the first dental mobile unit in New York. Today, the SMILEmobile program is a year-round initiative, serving city schools and rural community sites during the summer.