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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cole Memorial has launched a new Pediatric Oral Health Program

Preventive Dental Health Program Started in Pediatric Dept. Of Cole Memorial

Children’s oral health was identified as a priority in Cole Memorial’s recent community health needs assessment. The survey revealed that at the present time, there are no dental providers in Cole Memorial’s service area who care for children under the age of three. In addition, there is very limited dental care available for children of any age with Medical Assistance or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Families have to travel long distances to receive dental care and many children simply do not receive the care they need due to a lack of transportation in rural areas.

Thanks in part to a Community-Based Health Care Program grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, on March 31, 2014 Cole Memorial has launched a new Pediatric Oral Health Program at Cole Memorial’s Coudersport Pediatrics Office. Beth Pantuso, Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioner, will see pediatric patients from the time of eruption of their first tooth through age 21.

Beth comes to Cole Memorial from the Bradford Dental Center with over 11 years of experience as a certified Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioner. She will provide dental screenings, cleanings, topical fluoride varnish application, and oral health education to patients and families. Beth will work closely with Cole’s pediatricians Drs. Rigas, Li and Wust-Smith as well as with pediatric care manager Jennifer Hollowell to refer patients who need restorative care to pediatric or general dentists. In addition, beginning in the fall of 2014, Beth will travel to the local school districts in Cole Memorial’s service area to provide the same services to children in the school setting.

“We are so excited about the opportunity to integrate preventive dental services into our pediatric practice at Cole Memorial,” stated Dr. Mary Ann Rigas, a board certified pediatrician at Cole Memorial and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Our focus in pediatrics is on keeping children healthy, and until now, we have felt a great void when it comes to caring for our patients’ teeth. Early childhood dental caries is the most common preventable chronic childhood disease and the greatest unmet healthcare need among our patients. We look forward to collaborating with Beth to prevent the onset of early childhood caries in our patients through education and early dental care.”

The development of a Regional Oral Health Collaborative Council is an important component of the Pediatric Oral Health Program. The council will be comprised of representatives from the dental and medical communities as well as school administrators and nurses and members of local human services organizations. The council will meet on a regular basis at Cole Memorial.

“We are grateful to Governor Corbett and the Community-Based Health Care Subsidy Program,” said Cole Memorial President and CEO Ed Pitchford. “This project is funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Health to enhance access to dental care and to continue to deliver preventive primary care services to patients in the rural communities that we serve.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment with the Public Health Dental Hygiene Practitioner, call 814-274-9198. Medical Assistance and CHIP will be accepted and no child will be denied care due to inability to pay. Most major dental insurance plans will reimburse patients for these services.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is awesome! It definitely is well over due to have a local pediatric dentist! I'm assuming based on the article that any pediatric dental care outside of preventive care will still have to be dealt with elsewhere but this is a start!