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Collaborative Project Aims to Improve Access to Dental Care


June 4


Area organizations are working with state legislators to improve access to oral health services.

Area organizations are working with state legislators on a collaborative project aimed at improving access to oral health services for both children and adults in Appalachian counties. The project includes the creation of a dental clinic that will be housed in a facility provided by Shawnee State University. This facility will be staffed by the Ohio State University College of Dentistry and will become a clinical site for Shawnee State’s dental hygiene program. Clinical services provided in the clinic will be managed by the Community Action Committee of Pike County, a Federally Qualified Health Center. Funded through private grants, Shawnee State University will serve as project manager for the facility.

“This is a tremendous community partnership involving many organizations and agencies working together through the Scioto County Health Coalition and with our state legislators, to improve the health of those who live and work here,” Shawnee State University President Rita Rice Morris, said. “Everyone has pulled together to meet a critical need in our region. We’re thrilled at what this will mean for our students and residents.”

Development of the project was initiated by Ohio State University College of Dentistry and included the Scioto County Health Coalition, Scioto County Community Action Organization, Community Action Committee of Pike County, Shawnee State University, Compass Community Health, The Counseling Center, Representative Terry Johnson and Senator Joe Uecker. Scioto County Health Coalition partners also include the American Red Cross, Southern Ohio Medical Center, King’s Daughters Medical Center, and the Area Agency on Aging.

“Dental care is central to our well-being,” Senator Uecker said. “I’m proud to be a part of such a dedicated collaboration to improve the lives of constituents in Scioto County.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, dental care is the single most common unmet health care need among children in the Appalachian region. As a result, they suffer from tooth decay at a 59% higher rate than children in other areas of Ohio. This rate has increased significantly from 1998 to 2010.

The oral health status of adults in Scioto and other Appalachian counties is far worse than that of adults in non-Appalachian counties: 27.2% of Scioto County adults have unmet oral health needs, the fourth highest in Ohio.

Affordability of care, lack of dental insurance, and access to dentists are all major barriers to dental care in our region. The planned dental clinic is aimed at addressing those barriers.

The clinic will be housed in the downtown area on Chillicothe Street. The facility is to include 12 treatment areas with services to include full dentistry services, as well as outreach programming. Shawnee State University hopes to develop other health care programming, laboratories, and outreach services adjacent to the clinic in the future to help address other community needs and to strengthen, expand, and enhance current health care curricula.


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