GARY, Ind., June 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest idea for a new Kool Smiles dental office wasn't generated in the traditional way. It actually sprang from a children's oral health hearing of the Medicaid Legislative Oversight Committee last year at the Indiana Statehouse.
In September 2009, Kool Smiles Regional Dental Director and Pediatric Dentist, Dr. Polly Buckey, DDS, MS, testified at the Statehouse about the importance of dental hygiene to overall public health and Kool Smiles' mission to expand quality dental care to underserved communities. Indiana State Rep. Charlie Brown was on hand for that hearing and, finding Dr. Polly Buckey's testimony to be consistent with what he has experienced in Northwest Indiana, asked her what could be done to bring Kool Smiles to his hometown.
Today, the results of those early discussions were on display during a celebration of the new Kool Smiles office at the Gary Community Health Center, 1021 W. 5th Ave.
"Rep. Brown recognized a need in his community, and we are excited that we were able to partner with the health center to bring dental services to this underserved area," said Dr. Polly Buckey. "It's not often that public and private sector organizations actively seek partnerships to improve a community in need. We're excited that this first-of-its-kind partnership creates a real benefit for everyone involved, especially the residents of Gary."
"From start to finish, Kool Smiles has had Gary's best interests at heart," said Rep. Brown, Chairman of the Indiana House Public Health Committee. "They were open to bringing their people and services directly into our health center, where the city's residents have easy access to them. And the health center, itself, made this possible by opening its doors to Kool Smiles and welcoming them to Gary."
The Gary Community Health Center is funded by taxpayer dollars through HRSA. Kool Smiles has a multi-year agreement to provide care in partnership with the center, in order to provide comprehensive, affordable dental services to adults and children.
"Every day we see families who are in need of high-quality dental services," said Dr. Janet Seabrook, Director of the health center, who served as emcee for today's celebration. "Now, we have a place we can direct them, and it's right here in our building. This is a win-win situation for all involved in this partnership, which I hope other communities will emulate. I'm confident we'll see an improvement in the overall health of Northwest Indiana."
Dr. Seabrook and others noted that the US Surgeon General has called oral health one of the country's greatest unmet needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of US children aged 2-5 and half of those aged 12-15. About half of all children and two-thirds of children aged 12-19 from low-income families have had decay. Untreated decay is more prominent among children and adolescents of some racial and ethnic groups as well as lower-income families.
"Tooth decay affects children and their families in so many different ways," said Tony Gillespie, Senior Field Consultant for the Indiana Minority Health Coalition. "For example, if a child is suffering from this infectious disease, they can be in pain or underweight, which can impact their ability to succeed at school. Kool Smiles is doing this community a great service by bringing their renowned team of doctors to the health center and helping tackle a preventable health problem."
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay was among those praising the public-private partnership that brought Kool Smiles to the city.
"It's important to point out that both parents and their children can receive dental care at the health center now," Clay said. "Working parents often can't afford to take time off from work for non-emergency health care. As schedules permit, parents and kids may now be able to receive dental care at the same Kool Smiles office at the same time.
"This is a great boost to our residents' health and quality of life," Clay added.
Kool Smiles would like to thank the following local companies and organizations for their donations to today's celebration, which featured free food, drinks, entertainment and dental screenings: Adonia Community Services, Aflac, Aliveness Project of NWI, Anthem, Brick Porch, Brothers Uplifting Brothers Inc., Brunos Organics, Covering Kids & Families, Domino's Pizza, Gary Public Library-Brunswick Branch, Healthy Start, Indiana National Guard, Ivy Tech Community College, Kyani, Lakeshore Public Television, McDonald's, N.A.T.A.L.E., North Star-Dairy Rich Ice Cream, Outback Steakhouse, PSI Family Services, Sojourner Truth House, Strack & Van Til, Texas Corral, The Stadium Restaurant, We Care From the Heart, Youth Services Bureau and Zen Wellness.
Founded in 2002, Kool Smiles is a network of local dental offices dedicated to expanding access to quality dental care for children and families in underserved communities. Kool Smiles provides preventative care, diagnostic imaging and a full range of restorative care supported with electronic health records. Kool Smiles offices, many of which are newly constructed, are designed to facilitate communications between patients and doctors in a relaxed atmosphere.
Kool Smiles accepts most insurance plans and is proud to offer services to military families covered by Tricare, as well as families utilizing Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Programs. Kool Smiles provides oral health education programs through partnerships with community schools and organizations. To find a local Kool Smiles dentist, please visit www.koolsmilespc.com.
SOURCE Kool Smiles