GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College (L&C) and the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine (SIU SDM) partnered to provide oral health care for underserved patients in Calhoun County.
The rural area has not had a local practicing dentist since the start of 2017. SIU SDM and L&C offered a community dentistry event May 19 at the University of Illinois Extension Office in Hardin, Illinois where four portable dental stations were set up.
The interprofessional collaborative event was supported by a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that Lewis and Clark received in 2015. From the start, one of the grant’s primary focuses has been on a team approach that integrates oral and systemic health.
The Hardin Senior Center promoted the clinic and scheduled patient appointments. Eleven patients, ages 27-80, were screened by registered nurse, Lucy Chappee, who works in the L&C Family Health Clinic and manages the grant.
“Our main grant focus is to address primary care, prevention and education through an interprofessional model,” Chappee said. “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.”
Several of the patients were on medication for hypertension, diabetes or other chronic illnesses, and the majority presented with periodontitis, mild to moderate caries, or missing/non-restorable teeth. One patient, with immediate needs for re-treatment of a root canal, was given a referral. All others were strongly encouraged to follow-up with a dentist for x-rays and restorative care.
Patients also 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,” Kosten said. “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.”
The SIU SDM’s commitment to community dentistry is a win-win, Kosten said, because it benefits both patients and dental students.
“Our primary goals are to always positively impact the oral health of the community first, and to 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.”
This is not the first trip L&C’s interprofessional care team has made to Calhoun County to provide health services. The college has worked closely with the Hardin Senior Center and the local health department to address specific needs, and over the course of the HRSA grant, has provided oral cancer screening, glucose and cholesterol screenings, body composition analysis, mental health screenings, diabetes education, nutrition education, and stress management.
About SIU SDM
The SIU School of Dental Medicine students manage approximately 35,000 patient visits each year at its patient clinics in Alton and East St. Louis. In addition, students offer oral health treatment, screenings and education to more than 10,000 people annually through a wide variety of off-campus community outreach events. These opportunities provide students the training they need to graduate and become highly skilled dentists. The School of Dental Medicine is a vital oral health care provider for residents of southern and central Illinois, and the St. Louis metropolitan region. To learn more, visit www.siue.edu/dental.
About L&C Family Health Clinic
The Lewis and Clark Family Health Clinic is a full-service clinic offering both acute and chronic care for all members of the community. The clinic is staffed by board certified nurse practitioners and collaborates with several health-service agencies and school districts to help expand healthcare services and education in rural communities. The service area includes Greene, Macoupin, Jersey, Calhoun and Madison counties. To learn more, visit www.lc.edu/fhc.