Tri-Town Community Action Agency Health Center recently received $250,000 through the federal Health Resources and Services Administration [HRSA] to expand its dental program and treat more patients in its service area.
“When people cannot see a dental provider, they do not receive the preventive services and early diagnosis and interventions that can halt or slow the progress of most oral diseases,” explained Tri-Town Chief Operating Officer Brenda Dowlatshahi. “This funding will allow Tri-Town to hire more dental care providers, expand hours of service, and renovate existing facilities to add new exam rooms and operatories.”
In its grant application, Tri-Town noted that more than 90 percent of adult clients have income below 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline, or about $40,000 per year for a family of three, and that 92 percent of children in its Head Start program are covered by Medicaid, but generally do not get the dental care they need because of a lack of providers.
“By securing this grant, Tri-Town will be able to answer our clients’ immediate need for more dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants, and provide long-term improvements to the dental health of our community as we identify and treat patients’ oral health issues earlier,” Dowlatshahi said. “Untreated oral diseases can not only lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss, but also contribute to an increased risk for serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and poor birth outcomes.”
Under the terms of the grant, Tri-Town is also contributing $200,000 of its own funds to expand the dental program.
“With 40-plus years of success in delivering high-quality, affordable health and dental care to our clients, Tri-Town is uniquely positioned to reach the underserved population in our service area,” Tri-Town CEO Joseph DeSantis said. “Through this investment in our staffing and infrastructure, we will provide more dental care providers, more hours, and more space to families and their children who need these services most.”
Other facts about Tri-Town’s dental program:
• The Tri-Town Dental/Oral Health Services Program opened in May, 2010, at 1126 Hartford Ave. in Johnston;
• 1,712 dental patients (31 percent of total Health Center patients) made 4,472 dental patient visits (19 percent of total Health Center patient visits) to the Health Center in 2014;
• About 75 percent of Tri-Town patients are enrolled in Medicaid and about 30 percent are under the age of 21;
• Tri-Town has reduced the number of uninsured patients in its service area from almost 40 percent in 2012 to about 9 percent in 2015.
For more information about Tri-Town Health Centers, at 1126 Hartford Ave., Johnston, and 33 Maple Ave., North Providence, call (401) 519-1940.
Here's a quick guide to the locations of Tri-Town's programs and services in northern Rhode Island. Click on each location to view Google Maps, and on each link to see contact information and descriptions of each program.