Ronald McDonald House Charities announced today the delivery of Contra Costa County's first Ronald McDonald Dental Care Mobile, a dental office on wheels; its arrival coincides with Children's Dental Health Month in February. An official launch event of the vehicle and pediatric dental services will take place on Thursday, February 26, 2004 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Diablo Medical Center, 2540 East Street, in Concord.
The mobile unit is a partnership of county dental action
leadership organizations including John Muir/Mt. Diablo Health System, La Clinica De la Raza, Brookside Community Health Center, Contra Costa Health Services, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bay Area.
Dubbed the "Contra Costa Collaborative," this group of organizations has been working together toward the launch of this oral health project for two and one-half years. The roving dental office is one of a fleet of Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles around the world sponsored by Ronald McDonald House Charities to help improve children's health and encourage preventive medical care. The Bay Area's first Ronald McDonald Dental Care Mobile was launched in conjunction with Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in 2000, and during the past three years has served the oral health needs of more than 7,000 children
throughout Santa Clara County.
The Ronald McDonald Dental Care Mobile will visit underserved
communities in Contra Costa County -- areas where pediatric dentistry is scarce, and transportation is a barrier to care. The vehicle's first outreach efforts include delivery of dental services to
elementary schoolchildren in the Pittsburg Unified School District.
"The rampant tooth decay we find in the underprivileged child
population leads to major health problems and can hamper eating,
sleeping -- even the ability to learn," said Dr. Phillip Vargas, lead
dentist for the new Care Mobile.
Poor dental health greatly affects the performance and attendance of students, concurs Lynne Plunkett, principal at Heights Elementary School in Pittsburg, one of the schools to be served by the Care Mobile. "Many of our children frequently suffer from pain that distracts them and keeps them away from school, and embarrassment from the state of their teeth and gums. When a child can barely speak in school because of this, it detours their ability to learn," she explains.
"Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bay Area, in conjunction with local McDonald's restaurants, has a clear commitment to bettering the lives of children in our communities," said Scott Rodrick, President of RMHCBA and a McDonald's restaurant owner/operator. "We believe we can make a significant impact on children's health by donating this state-of-the-art dental office on wheels to the Contra Costa community and partnering with local experts on the issue of children's oral health," he added.