TURLOCK, California, December 24, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Lack of dentists and specialists in rural California counties is leading to high rates of tooth decay and preventable dental emergencies, especially among low-income residents. Oral health (dental care) is one of the greatest unmet health needs of all Americans and rural Americans. The California Central Valley is a prime example of this crisis, including Stanislas and Merced Counties. Recognizing the need for change, Legacy Health Endowment (LHE) and the EMC Health Foundation collaborated with the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry to create a report that examines the current and future dental needs of children and seniors across Stanislas and the counties of Merced and how best to provide more accessible and affordable dental services to those in need.
While most children in these counties have dental coverage and use the dental program supported by Medi-Cal, there is an urgent need for broader and earlier access to preventive care. There are also gaps in the care of the elderly. Disability, common chronic diseases, and the drugs used to treat them pose unique oral health risks in older adults. Yet millions of older Californians do not qualify for Denti-Cal and have limited or no dental coverage after retirement. In addition, the direct cost of care forces many people to limit or forgo dental treatment altogether.
The first step of the EMC Health foundation was to sponsor local students attending UOP School of Dentistry with a scholarship that pays 100% of their tuition. In turn, they agree to return to the Greater LHE and EMC Health Foundation communities to work as a dentist for three years after graduation, addressing the needs of all patients.
As EMC Health Foundation and LHE sponsor local students for the chance to become dentists and serve their community, their goal is twofold: to ensure they graduate debt free and ready to meet dental needs. every citizen; and begin to build a strong cadre of English, Spanish, Farsi, Punjabi and Afghan speaking dentists to serve the Central Valley, providing hope and opportunity and empowering children and the elderly.
Improve access to high-quality dental care and oral health status by Merced and Stanislas Counties cannot be reached overnight or with just one policy. Instead, it will take lawmakers, health professionals and advocates to overcome the current disparities in oral care and close the gaps. In addition, it is imperative that we recognize the need for culturally competent bilingual providers in all areas of medicine and dental care.
About Legacy Health Endowment
Legacy Health Endowment is a nonprofit health care granting foundation that works only in Merced and Stanislaus counties in the Central Valley of California. LHE is not a hospital or health service provider www.legacyhealthendowment.org
About the EMC Health Foundation
EMC Health Foundation was established to promote and extend care to people living within our community. EMC Health Foundation hopes to take care of their spiritual, physical and psychosocial health. The foundation has a narrow geographic coverage area – each community south of Modesto in Stanislas County (Turlock, Denair, Ceres, Crows landing, New man, Patterson, Hughson, Keyes, Wesley, Grayson, and Modesto West) and eight cities (Atwater, Ballico, Hilmar, Winton, Santa Nella, Stevinson, Gustine, Livingston, and Delhi) in North Merced County. The EMC Health Foundation is an organization that is defined and motivated by its values, those core beliefs that determine its character and behavior.
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SOURCE Heritage Health