Sharon Nicholson Harrell,
TROY – Recent disbursements from the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation will help assure that two FirstHealth dental care programs continue to serve low-income and underserved children and adults in Montgomery County.
A three-year $17,763 FirstHealth Montgomery grant will help offset operating deficits at the FirstHealth Dental Care Center-Troy, a program that provides general dentistry and education about dental hygiene for uninsured, Health Choice and Medicaid children ages 1 to 18. A $36,000 Foundation disbursement will go to the Adult Dental Care Voucher Program at FirstHealth Montgomery Memorial Hospital.
The money for both programs comes from proceeds from the 2011 Spring Event, the annual FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation fundraiser.
According to Sharon Nicholson Harrell, DDS, MPH, director of the FirstHealth Dental Care Centers, the FirstHealth Montgomery Foundation has been instrumental to the success of the Dental Care Centers in the past and in the present and will continue to be so in the future.
“Past support from the Foundation sponsored the ‘Montgomery Smiles!’ sealant project that increased the percentage of Montgomery County school children with preventive sealants to 61 percent compared to a state average of only 44 percent,” Dr. Harrell says. “Current support provides Kids in Crisis Funds for children with critical dental needs requiring specialty care. I am so grateful for this latest disbursement, because it ensures that underserved children in Montgomery County will always be able to access the dental care they need.”
The FirstHealth Dental Care Center-Troy records about 260 patient visits each month. Since its opening in January 1999, it has served more than 6,000 children.
Since 2006, the Adult Dental Care Voucher Program has provided more than $76,000 to help Montgomery County residents with emergency dental procedures. Dr. and Mrs. Darrell Simpkins started the fund after Dr. Simpkins and his Sandhills Emergency Physicians colleagues began noticing an unusual number of adult dental emergencies in the Montgomery Memorial Hospital Emergency Department.
Most involved patients who were uninsured and/or unemployed and couldn’t afford the follow-up dental treatment they needed to keep them out of pain.
According to Susan Davey, R.N., Montgomery Memorial’s director of nursing, the patients who qualify for voucher assistance have no insurance and no means of accessing dental care. They also have significant dental issues and come into the hospital’s Emergency Department in considerable pain.
“Since the program’s inception in 2006, we have served 369 patients,” Davey says. “With continued funding, we look forward to serving even more Montgomery County residents with emergency dental issues.”