The Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine and Lewis and Clark Community College partnered to provide oral health care for underserved patients in Calhoun County, a rural area that has not benefited from a local practicing dentist since the start of 2017.
The institutions offered a community dentistry event on Friday, May 19, at the University of Illinois Extension Office in Hardin, supported by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration that LCCC received in 2015.
Eleven patients were screened by registered nurse Lucy Chappee, who works in the LCCC Family Health Clinic and manages the grant. They then received visual exams, cleanings and treatment referrals performed by eight SIU SDM students, under the supervision of Dr. Katie Kosten, director of community dentistry and assistant professor at the SIU SDM.
“It’s important that both of our institutions serve as partners and leaders in oral health, and understand the need to have a meaningful impact on our community,” said Kosten. “With Lucy screening the patient’s health history and recording vitals prior to our students performing the dental exams and cleanings, the process was more efficient and effective for the patients and students.”
“Our main grant focus is to address primary care, prevention and education through an interprofessional model,” Chappee added. “By bringing services to those in rural areas, we can prevent illness or provide early intervention, which results in overall improved health outcomes. The interprofessional team approach to total body health is not only good practice, but it also saves patients time and money.”
The SIU SDM’s commitment to community dentistry is a win-win, according to Kosten, because it benefits both patients and dental students.
“Our primary goals are always to positively impact the oral health of the community and provide a beneficial and meaningful learning environment for our students,” Kosten said. “Events such as this collaborative effort between the School of Dental Medicine and Lewis and Clark allow us to accomplish our objectives.
“We were able to provide a service to those who have difficulty accessing dental care, while at the same time allowing our students to experience a scenario where they have to assimilate what they’ve learned in their curriculum and apply it in a real world situation.”
PHOTO: SIUE’s SDM students participated in a community dentistry event in Hardin.