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Grant expands dental services on McDonald’s Care Mobile

The Washington State University Intercollegiate College of Nursing has received a $28,937 grant from the Washington Dental Service Foundation to provide restorative dental care for children using the health care services of the Spokane Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.

The grant, named the Spokane Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Cavity Fighter and Fixer, will expand upon the existing preventative dental services and create a platform to seek further funding for oral health. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, operated by the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing, has used the funding to purchase an ergonomically appropriate dental chair for the Care Mobile that will help with restorative dental treatment. The funding will also allow the Care Mobile to hire a part-time dental assistant to work 20 hours per week to support volunteer dentists with preventative and restorative procedures.

The new chair will be installed and available for use on the Care Mobile Sept. 6, just in time for the high volume back-to-school rush that includes dental, vision, sports physicals, immunizations and basic health care services.

“The Washington Dental Service Foundation grant will help us reach children and youth who otherwise would have not access to dental services,” said Chris Riebe, manager of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. “Collaboration with the local dental community, Spokane Regional Health District and supporters of our efforts to help children improve their overall health made the connection to the Washington Dental Service Foundation a perfect opportunity to expand our efforts.”

Many young children see their health care provider several times before they ever see a dentist. This delay can allow minor dental issues to remain untreated, growing into painful conditions requiring costly corrective measures. Pairing medical services at the same location allows young children to be seen earlier, revealing and addressing developing decay and reinforcing the notion that good oral health is an essential part of good overall health.

“A child is not healthy if their mouth is not healthy,” said Tracy Garland, Washington Dental Service Foundation’s president and chief operating officer. “Children with oral disease can’t pay attention in school, have trouble sleeping and may be at risk for other health problems. By investing in programs such as the dental services provided by the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, we can improve children’s oral health by treating existing oral disease and preventing it before it starts.”

The $300,000 state-of-the-art 40-foot mobile pediatric unit is managed and operated by nurse practitioners from the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing and operates year-round. It came equipped with a dental chair when it began operation in 2002, but until now, the services have been limited to preventative care. It is also equipped with two exam rooms and delivers medical and dental care directly to children in their own neighborhoods such as schools, high traffic business and not-for-profit locations, community centers and select local McDonald’s Restaurants in connection with special events. Services are provided at no charge. The Care Mobile also welcomes general health walk-ins although they cannot guarantee an immediate opening. Dental care, however, requires an appointment.

The Care Mobile will be at several events and locations during the next several weeks as the school year gets underway. A complete listing of service location days and times are posted on the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile Web site at www.spokanecaremobile.org. Call (509) 324-7291 to schedule an appointment.

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is community outreach service of the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing and Inland Northwest Health Services with support from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Spokane, Spokane McDonald’s Restaurants and several local funding partners. The Care Mobile staff is funded, in part, through a 2002 Health Resources and Services Administration grant for the Basic Nurse Education and Practice Program (No. 1 D11 HP 00457).

Founded in 1985, Washington Dental Service Foundation is the state’s largest foundation committed to improving oral health. Supported by its parent organization, Washington Dental Service, the foundation supports innovative oral health programs focused on preventing oral disease, expanding access to dental care and increasing awareness of the importance of oral health. To learn more about the Washington Dental Service Foundation, visit www.deltadentalwa.com/wdsfoundation/wdsfoundation.htm.

Established in 1968, the WSU Intercollegiate College of Nursing is fully-accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The College is the nation’s oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium and is the largest college of nursing in the Northwest. Celebrating 37 years of world-class nursing education, the college offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners: Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, WSU and Whitworth College. Each year the College educates nearly 800 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other Washington state educational institution. For more information about the College of Nursing, visit the Web site at nursing.wsu.edu.

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