Pima County supports mobile dental clinic for rural childrenby Pima County News on Dec. 04, 2012, under Board of Supervisors, children, Health, Pima County, Southern Arizona, Uncategorized, youth
Children in rural areas soon will have better access to dental care, with the Pima County Board of Supervisors voting Tuesday to allocate $50,000 from its contingency funds to assist with the purchase of a pediatric mobile dental unit.
The funding for United Community Health Center helps match funds provided by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation to provide pediatric dental services to more children in southern Pima County.
Services will be provided to as many as 1,800 children, largely on-site at area schools, with the goal of providing better primary care and addressing issues of poor dental hygiene.
“It is my hope that this dental unit can help reduce the health-care disparities in rural areas,” said Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, whose district encompasses many rural areas. “Given transportation, educational and economic barriers, it’s often quite hard for rural families to get access to primary care. This allows those services to directly serve some of our most vulnerable residents – children.”
United Community Health Center serves as the federally designated safety net to the rural poor in southern Pima County.
There is clearly work to be done. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported that nearly 40 percent of the state’s third-graders have untreated tooth decay and only 57 percent of children through third grade had visited a dentist in the previous year.
Freeport-McMoRan contributed $155,000 on the condition that the nonprofit raise matching funds for the remainder of the $307,000 purchase.
Dianna Gonzales, CEO of United Community Health Care, thanked the County for its contribution. “This contribution will really help us make a difference for families,” Gonzales said. “Establishing healthy dental habits early can really ease fears and secure a foundation of lifelong dental health.”
United Community Health Care is currently constructing a new pediatric dental clinic in Continental, Ariz., to provide services to the medically underserved.
Gonzales hopes to be able to start service delivery in the spring.