FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACTS: Tamara Reames
MERIDIAN, IDAHO – No one disputes the importance of healthy teeth and gums. Yet because many families in the West Ada School District don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford a visit to the dentist without it, many children go without routine oral health care.
That’s in the process of changing. Thanks to a $45,000 grant from Cambia Health Foundation, uninsured children who attend school in the West Ada District may now visit a dental hygienist at the Meridian Schools Clinic at no cost.
Every Friday at Meridian Schools Clinic, a dental hygienist provides a dental screening, teeth cleaning, sealants and fluoride varnish to children and adolescents who have no insurance or financial resources for dental care. Although Meridian Schools Clinic is located on the campus of Meridian Elementary School, services are provided to any West Ada District student and their siblings who qualify. Free transportation is also provided for children attending Chief Joseph Elementary, Frontier Elementary, Peregrine Elementary School, Meridian Middle School, Crossroads Middle School, Pathways Middle School and Meridian Academy.
These free oral health services are a big help to families like the Mannings. Siblings Chase, Alivia and Blake visited the Meridian Schools Clinic recently for screening, cleaning and fluoride treatments. Clinic hygienist Karen Yatzun, RHD, also repaired and applied protective sealants to the students’ molars. Mom Hannah Manning is well aware of the importance of routine dental care, but she’s a part-time employee and her husband is self-employed. Without insurance, a visit like the one she scheduled for her three children at MSC would cost $500, she said. “It was hard to get ahead. By the time I paid off the bill at the dentist, it was time for them to be seen again,” adding that not having insurance often delayed her from scheduling regular check-ups. By receiving care at Meridian Schools Clinic, she can now better afford dental services not performed at the clinic, should they be needed.
Seeing a hygienist can make a big difference in a child’s success in school, not to mention their overall health. “When a child has oral discomfort or pain, it can affect his or her ability to focus in school,” said Yatzun. “Early and regular preventive dental care can keep a child pain-free and avoid costly future dental work,” she said.
“As Cambia Health Foundation is focused on making health care more person-focused and affordable, funding oral health services at Meridian Schools Clinic was a great fit,” said Scott Kreiling, who represents Idaho on the Cambia Health Foundation board. “We’re pleased to be part of this collaborative model that will brighten smiles and contribute to the long-term well-being of the children served.”
About Cambia Health Foundation: Cambia Health Foundation is the charitable foundation of Cambia Health Solutions, a total health solutions company dedicated to transforming the way people experience health care. A 501(c)(3) grant-making organization, the Foundation strategically invests and partners with organizations to advance palliative care quality, access and understanding; improve the health of underserved children; and transform health care to a more person-focused, equitable and economically sustainable system. Learn more at www.cambiahealthfoundation.org or follow us at Twitter.
About Meridian Schools Clinic: Meridian Schools Clinic, a multi-agency collaboration, is the first freestanding permanent school-based clinic in Idaho. The project succeeds due to the continued commitment of Family Medicine Residency of Idaho and the West Ada School District. Program support services are provided by Boys and Girls Club of Ada County, Terry Reilly Health Services and Central District Health Department. The clinic provides treatment of minor acute illness and injury, well-child exams, immunizations and dental hygiene services. Mental health and dietician services are also available by appointment. Meridian Schools Clinic has served more than 1,000 students since opening in January 2014. Many Meridian Schools Clinic patients fall into the gap of healthcare coverage in Idaho, meaning their family income is too low to qualify for premium subsidies and too high to qualify for traditional Medicaid. A sliding fee scale, depending on family income level, is available for people who have no insurance. The goal of Meridian Schools Clinic is to help children attending the West Ada School District without access to a medical home succeed by keeping them healthy, in school and ready to learn. Learn more at http://www.fmridaho.org/patients/meridian-schools-clinic/