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AHEC, AHR Dental Programs Lauded By National Dental Organization

November 30th, 2015 by WCBC Radio

The American Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) recently published on its website a synopsis of two local dental referral programs orchestrated by the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and Allegany Health Right (AHR).

ASTDD invited oral health providers and organizations across the United States to submit a detailed accounting of a successful public oral health program. The AHEC and AHR worked together to submit an accounting of the Emergency Department dental referral programs both agencies orchestrate in the Western Maryland region and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Allegany Health Right has worked to provide low income residents with dental care at no cost to them for the past decade. AHR has tapped grant funding to help pay for services for walk-ins as well as patients referred from other agencies and the Emergency Department at the Western Maryland Health System. AHR helps those patients connect with area dentists, who provide services to AHR referrals at a reduced rate. They also refer patients to dental clinics at area health departments. Since its inception, the AHR Dental Access Program has provided dental care in excess of $2.1 million, with AHR paying over $807,000 via grant funding and dental practitioners donating over $1.3 million in care. Over 2,400 people have received services.

This year, AHEC instituted a similar Emergency Department (ED) referral program with Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser and Garrett Regional Medical Center in Oakland. This work is via a large regional collaboration of health care agencies called Mountain Health Alliance (MHA).  ED patients sign a release form allowing MHA’s Community Health Workers to contact the patient directly to arrange dental care services. MHA has created a network of dentists in Garrett County, Mineral County, and Washington County who provide services at a greatly discounted hourly rate. In addition to the dental service provided, the MHA and AHR Community Health Workers establish ongoing relationships with the people served in the program, working to improve overall health by altering behaviors and assisting people in finding the support they need through a variety of community resources.  

The ASTDD vetted entries on addressing oral health in the public health arena from throughout the United States. The programs submitted by AHEC and AHR were approved for publication on www.astdd.org, under “State Activities/Maryland.”

For information about the programs, call AHEC at 301-777-9150, or AHR at 301-777-7749.

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