Grants to CHA, Forsyth Institute give dental care to vulnerable, including Somerville kids in pain
The Cambridge Health Alliance Foundation and Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, on behalf of the ForsythKids Program, have each been awarded $15,000 by the Massachusetts Dental Society Foundation – part of more than $66,000 in “Expanding Access to Dental Care” grants to organizations in Massachusetts, the foundation said Feb 3.
For ForsythKids, the money will help continue a mobile dental program for populations who tend to have poorer oral health and face challenges getting dental care. The funds will be used to add teledentistry and continue in-person treatment for urgent dental conditions, and support virtual classes on oral health education, said Helen Nguyen, a ForsythKids public health dentist. “School-based wellness programs are often the only access points to health care for many vulnerable children, and with schools being remote at this time, this access point has diminished. This has led us to develop innovative ways to continue to reach our children while they are learning from home.”
The grant for CHA will help it continue work helping newly immigrated youth at Somerville High School with oral health. Many of the students have no insurance coverage or are underinsured, do not have access to preventive dental care and are unfamiliar with navigating the U.S. health care system, the foundation said.
The Alliance was made aware of the issues by a school volunteer working with the English-Language Learners program; the volunteer said there were an increasing number of absences due to untreated dental issues causing “critical levels of pain,” the foundation said. Assessment, cleanings and fluoride treatments could take place at Somerville High School.
The funding will also help expand the CHA program to include local dental professionals, which will help increase the number of specialized treatments and decrease wait times. “Somerville dentists have offered to collaborate with CHA to provide dental care so desperately needed,” said Mary Cassesso, CHA Foundation chief community officer and president.
Information is at massdental.org/grant-recipients.