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Case Western Reserve University

Oral Health Patient Navigation for Underserved Populations

Project Type: 
Low Income Patients
Grant Type: 
DTA Foundation
Year: 
2013

Families in under-resourced areas have difficulty accessing dental health services for themselves and their children. The CWRU Dental School’s Healthy Smiles Sealant Program, which serves 5500 children annually in the Cleveland public school district, seeks to enhance the referral, follow-up and self-management support for families in this district through oral health care coordination services after examination by the Healthy Smiles Sealant Program. 

Specifically, an oral health patient navigator (OHPN) would assist families with identifying and accessing local dental services for urgent and routine care, facilitate establishing a dental home and routine preventive care through supportive communication and education for families on an on-going basis, and act as a resource and liaison for oral health information and community-based oral health resources.

We very recently received pilot funding for a part-time OHPN from the state of Ohio but this person can only reasonably serve the urgent care referrals in about half of the district. In addition, we have identified unmet needs for information materials, low-level reading materials, home care supplies, and support for time spent with private dental offices to recruit them as follow-up care sites.