SACRAMENTO--More than 400 foster care students within the Twin Rivers Unified School District will be able to receive free dental care, thanks to a new telemedicine project created jointly by the California Dental Association Foundation, University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, and the California HealthCare Foundation with start-up funding from Verizon.
The groundbreaking project, which has received $100,000 from the Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, is needed to address the "access to care" crisis in California by connecting patients with critical dental services.
State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who was on hand for the demonstration at the Twin Rivers School District offices where the examinations will take place for the duration of the project, said, "The collaboration between the Verizon Foundation, Twin Rivers USD, the California Dental Association Foundation, the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, and the California HealthCare Foundation demonstrates that when partnerships are formed we can still do great things in and for our communities, even during times of unprecedented budgetary constraints."
Senator Steinberg represents Senate District 6, which includes the City of Sacramento, parts of Elk Grove, Citrus Heights, and Rancho Cordova.
Verizon's grant will support the first year of the Virtual Dental Home pilot project at the Twin Rivers school district and a second site in Southern California.
"The Virtual Dental Home is an innovative example of one of the many ways technology can improve the delivery of health care services," said Tim McCallion, Verizon West Region president. "Verizon is proud to partner with the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, the California Dental Association Foundation, and the California Healthcare Foundation to bring this project to the community."
The four-year pilot project will expand and improve access to dental services for people by giving participating dentists the technological capability to examine patients remotely with help from dental hygienists and dental assistants in underserved communities. After the remote examinations, dental hygienists and dental assistants will perform preventive and temporizing restorative treatment for the patient.
"This pilot project helps dentists improve the oral health of all Californians," said Lindsey Robinson, DDS, chair of the CDA Foundation board of directors. "Thanks to the generous grant from Verizon, we will be able to bring dentistry into underserved communities."
Project Director Dr. Paul Glassman, professor of dental practice at the University of the Pacific's Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry, said, "This new care delivery model provides a much-needed community-based 'virtual dental home' for the state's most vulnerable people, who will access dental services in their own communities as well as remove some of the barriers to receiving care in a traditional dental office setting."
The pilot project will operate at 15 community locations across California in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and northeastern California.
Planning and start-up activities during the first year will include the development of necessary protocols, data collection and evaluation systems, and a field test at six community locations. Nine more community locations will be added during the second year. The viability of the project will be evaluated at the end of the fourth year.
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