It's a Jungle Out There

The Community Health Center of Central Missouri expands its dental services with a new safari-themed mobile dental RV, allowing its dental teams to efficiently provide additional oral care to students at school.

Article by Cassidy Bax
Community Health Center Dental Clinical Manager

The Community Health Center of Central Missouri (CHCCMO) was established in 2005 to serve the primary healthcare needs of central Missouri residents. Providing primary care services is much more than just providers and facilities. Quality of care, customer service, disease management, value and convenience are also key components of the service delivery process. The Community Health Center emphasizes providing access to primary care services to everyone and works with our community partners to achieve our vision “Embracing People, Inspiring Health”.

One way CHCCMO decided to inspire health within the community was to create a mobile dental program based on the fact that one of the biggest needs within the community was a lack of dental care for children. The mobile dental program was first started at the local health departments, but the program was not making the impact on the community that was envisioned. Therefore CHCCMO decided to take the program into the schools. What better way to help the community than to help kids get a good start on their dental health? Those kids will then grow up and teach their own children the things that were taught to them about good oral care.

The mobile dental service is a great program that benefi ts not only the kids, but the parents as well. Ultimately kids end up missing less school time and parents don’t have to take off work to bring their kids to the dentist since the dentists come right to the children in school. Many mobile dental programs don’t have a “dental home” within the community--once the mobile dental clinic leaves the school there is nobody to complete or follow up on the child’s care. That’s another reason this program is so great….the Community Health Center has locations in all of the counties the mobile dental clinic visits so if the mobile dentists don’t finish all of the treatment in the school, students can follow up at one of the clinics. The mobile unit primarily focuses efforts on the neediest in the community, those with Medicaid and the uninsured. The mobile dental program has really grown within the last couple of years and now serves 25 schools across mid-Missouri. During the 2016-2017 school year, 256 patients were seen, and CHCCMO looks forward to continued growth in the years to come.

The growth of the program has brought many positive changes. CHCCMO is so excited to be able to introduce their new mobile dental RV, the Mobile Dental Safari, to the communities served including Cole, Moniteau, Osage and Callaway Counties. This safari themed RV is sure to be a hit with the kids! The new unit will not only help the program continue to succeed, but will also expand the ability to serve the community’s need for dental care for children. Previously, in order to deliver care in the schools the dental team had to unload all of their mobile dental equipment into the school and set up in a class room or sometimes even on the stage in a gymnasium. This approach had its challenges and was not the most efficient way to deliver services. Having the Mobile Dental Safari will allow the staff to be more efficient, and most importantly see more kids when visiting a school. The Community Health Center will also be able to deliver more comprehensive services with the full functionality of the mobile unit. More or less anything that can be done in a regular clinic can now be done in the mobile unit. The mobile unit will also go to new places and address populations that before could not have been reached.

The Community Health Center is very thankful to have the partnership with the United Way of Central Missouri. The funding the United Way provides helps make programs like the Mobile Dental Safari possible and enables the Community Health Center to continue their critical mission to provide dental care to those kids who truly need it.