By Erika Matich | University Communications
SHERIDAN, Colo. – There is a new place for low-income adults and children to get low-cost dental care thanks to a collaboration between the University of Colorado College of Nursing (CON) and University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine (SODM). One dental faculty member and three dental students are providing care for patients from Sheridan Health Services in the dental school's CU SmileMaker mobile dental clinic.
"The care our patients receive at the Sheridan facility is exceptional and efficient," said Erica Schwartz, DNP, MSN, CNM, executive director of Sheridan Health Services. "The addition of dental care allows us to provide one more service for a community that needs access to more care."
The CU SmileMaker van is one of the clinics that make up the SODM's Advanced Clinical Training and Service (ACTS) program. Dental students in ACTS spend the final year of dental school providing treatment in safety-net clinics located throughout the state.
At Sheridan Health Services, they are providing a variety of services, including oral health education, tooth cleaning, fillings, and – when necessary – extractions. The students strive to reach patients who need basic dental care and wellness instruction, before the need arises for more painful or time consuming treatment. Fees for services are determined by a sliding-scale for people who are uninsured. Medicaid, CHP+ and Colorado Access are the currently accepted forms of insurance.
"The key to anything in medicine or dentistry is early detection," said James Jack, DDS, associate professor at the SODM and an ACTS preceptor. "We educate people about dental hygiene, their diet and provide care to patients before their condition becomes more serious."
The mobile van also provides treatment for clients of the University of Colorado's Addiction Research and Treatment Services (ARTS) program, which serves people struggling with substance abuse and dependence.
The van is located on-site at Sheridan Health Services and renders care Wednesdays and Thursdays during the school year. It is operating thanks to a four-year, $800,000 grant from Health Resources and Services Administration. To schedule an appointment at Sheridan Health Services, call 303-781-1636.
Sheridan Health Services has two locations, a school-based health center located within Sheridan Middle School and a community clinic on the Ft. Logan campus. In addition to dental care, the provision of services includes primary care for children and adults; prenatal and postpartum care; case management, behavioral health, and substance abuse treatment. The wellness focus of the integrated team of advanced practices nurses, social workers, and doctors drives access to care. Early entry to prenatal care, nutrition, immunizations, depression screening, injury prevention, tobacco cessation, and cardiovascular risk factor assessments are provided to improve the health of the community.
It is based on a "healthcare home" model emphasizing continuous, comprehensive, coordinated care and the partnership between patients and their health care providers.
(Photo: Justin Smatz, a fourth-year dental school student, checks the teeth of a patient in the CU SmileMaker moblie dental clinic.)