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Howard, United Health Foundation, Tackle Dental Care for Kids


Photo by Justin Knight
College of Dentistry faculty and students provide free dental care to a young resident of the District of Columbia.


WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2008)
-- The United Health Foundation and Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) today announced a $300,000 grant from the Foundation to establish a model “program in dental excellence” at Howard University’s College of Dentistry that will expand access to quality dental care for low-income children and their families who reside in Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County.

This new initiative builds upon the demonstrated expertise of the Howard University College of Dentistry and the resources available through the school’s evening dental program. By using the innovative model of family-oriented dentistry and dental case management the program will ensure that children and their families receive comprehensive services that address the full range of their dental needs.

"We are pleased to partner with the United Health Foundation on this very important mission,” said Leo E. Rouse, DDS, dean of the Howard University College of Dentistry. “Together, we will expand access to quality pediatric dental care by advancing the innovative model of family-oriented dentistry. Community oral health care support and advocacy for total health care is part of our strategic plan.”

Cummings said in the wealthiest country in the world, there is absolutely no excuse for tooth decay to plague our children. "Proper dental care is a critical component in children’s overall health and development, and no child should be refused the right to good health,” he added. “This grant from United Health Foundation to Howard will help us continue to make great strides in our fight to provide access to quality dental care for all children—regardless of their race or economic backgrounds.”

Tooth decay is the single most common chronic disease of childhood – five to eight times more common than asthma, according to the Children’s Dental Health Project. In the 2000 “Oral Health in America Report,” U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, called dental and oral disease a “silent epidemic,” disproportionately affecting poor children.

“We applaud Congressman Cummings for his national leadership to improve access to quality dental care for children,” said Reed V. Tuckson, MD, United Health Foundation Board Member and Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “United Health Foundation is dedicated to providing expanded access to high-quality care by supporting community-based health centers throughout the nation. We are extremely excited about this collaboration with Howard University to advance comprehensive dental services for low-income families and are confident that the lessons learned from this program in dental excellence will be useful to not only the children of Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, but the entire nation.”

The Howard University College of Dentistry is uniquely qualified for this grant due to its long-standing commitment to provide quality care to underserved children and its national leadership in the training of dentists. Founded in 1881, the college is the fifth oldest dental school in the country and is one of only two located within historically black colleges and universities.

The grant will support the new United Health Foundation Community Dental Health Program of Excellence at Howard University, which will aim to ensure children have a “dental home,” where they can regularly receive basic dental services, as well as emergency treatment. Additionally, Howard University will be supported in developing state-of-the-art performance measures to evaluate and track quality of care delivery in community-based clinics such as the new program within the College of Dentistry. The program also will provide a unique environment for the training of general dentists as they learn to address pediatric dental needs.

Funding from the United Health Foundation grant also will support:
• The services of a pediatric dentist to provide on-site services for Medicaid beneficiaries in the service area;
• A dentistry case manager to provide on-site case management services for Medicaid beneficiaries in the service area, including scheduling, confirming appointments, and reducing barriers to keeping appointments; and,
• Community outreach and dental health education for children receiving Medicaid, their family members and caregivers.

The new program extends United Health Foundation’s “Community Health Centers of Excellence” initiative, through which the Foundation partners with four community health centers in New Orleans, Bronx, NY, Miami, and in the Congress Heights/Anacostia area of Washington, D.C. To date, the Foundation has committed more than $17 million in financial support to the centers.

A recent study of the quality of care at three of these community health centers, released by George Washington University Medical Center in January 2008, found that, based upon national standards, they provided care at or above that available in the private sector. The fourth clinic, only recently established in New Orleans, already shows signs consistent with the other three centers. The measures used in the evaluation included screening for cervical cancer and tobacco use; the quality of care furnished to persons with diabetes and asthma; the frequency of prenatal care HIV screening; and patient satisfaction levels.

About Howard University

Howard University is one of 48 U.S. private, Doctoral/Research-Extensive universities and comprises 12 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, a Truman Scholar, 19 Fulbright Scholars and 10 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African- American Ph.D.s than any other university in the world. For more information about Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at www.Howard.edu.

About United Health Foundation

United Health Foundation supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and provides reliable information to support health and medical decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities.

The Foundation’s Community Health Centers of Excellence initiative emphasizes preventive care, coordination of care and the use of nationally recognized standards of treatment, tailored to the unique needs of each community in collaboration with local care providers. The Foundation partners with four community clinics: New York City-based Children’s Health Fund to support children and families in the Bronx; Unity Health Care, Inc., to support the Congress Heights/Anacostia area of Washington, D.C.; the Jefferson Reaves, Sr. Health Center to provide care to the Overtown community in Miami, Florida; and in New Orleans, the Daughters of Charity Health Center – St. Cecilia.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization solely funded by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH). For further information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org.


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