Local health centers get funds to expand oral health services

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell recently announced $7,601,113 in funding to support 20 health centers in Florida including four in Miami-Dade County.

The funding will increase access to integrated oral health care services and improve oral health outcomes for Health Center Program patients. Nationwide, the June 16 announcement includes nearly $156 million in funding to support 420 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. This funding enables health centers to expand integrated oral health care services and increase the number of patients served.

The four local centers receiving funds are: Borinquen Health Care Center Inc., $350,000; Community Health South Florida Inc., $350,000; Jessie Trice Community Health Center Inc., $350,000, and Miami Beach Community Health Center Inc., $525,000.

With these awards from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), health centers across the country will increase their oral health service capacity by hiring approximately 1,600 new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants, aides, and technicians to treat nearly 785,000 new patients nationwide.

“Oral health is an important part of our overall physical health and well-being,” Secretary Burwell said. “The funding we are awarding will reduce barriers to quality dental care for hundreds of thousands of Americans by bringing new oral health providers to health centers across the country.”

Oral health problems can be a sign of illness elsewhere in the body. Additionally, lack of access to preventive and routine dental care for underserved populations can result in dental conditions requiring more costly emergency dental treatment.

“HRSA will continue to explore ways to further integrate oral health services within primary care settings, and increase awareness of the connection between oral health and overall health,” said HRSA acting administrator Jim Macrae.

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