Keystone Mercy Health Plan and Dentex Dental Group, a Philadelphia-based dental care company, are teaming up to bring a new mobile dental health program called “Chester Smiles” to residents in the city.
The 42-foot mobile vans staffed with experienced dental professionals and outfitted with a comprehensive range of state-of-the-art dental equipment will soon be traveling throughout Chester to provide quality dental care to the 34,000 residents who live in the area.
The vans are scheduled to be parked at primary care physician offices, community housing locations and government facilities. Appointments will be accepted, in addition to walk-ins. Many types of insurance will be accepted, and those who are unable to pay can work out payment arrangements.
“Chester Smiles is designed to improve access to quality dental care, reduce emergency room utilization for preventable dental issues and to introduce the concept of a ‘dental home’ that will provide continuity of care for those who need it most,” said Larry Paul, DDS, director of Keystone Mercy Dental.
“The majority of Chester residents have no access to dental care. Chester and its residents are very important to us and we want to raise dental care awareness in the city. Our goal is to provide the very best dental care for our subscribers as well as the people who do not have dental insurance.”
In 2009, U.S. residents made 800,000 visits to the emergency room for preventable dental conditions like toothaches, according to a recent report by the Pew Center on the States. This number represents a 16 percent increase over 2006. The study attributed the increase to the issues that underserved populations experience in receiving access to regular preventive care from dentists.
The study went on to suggest, “in 2009, 56 percent of Medicaid-enrolled children did not receive dental care—not even a routine exam. The access problem is driven by multiple factors, including a shortage of dentists in many areas of the U.S. and the fact that many dentists do not accept Medicaid-enrolled children.”
In the city of Chester, there are currently 11,500 Medicaid members. There are only three dental offices that serve the city including the Saltz Dental Center, Campus Dental Center, and the ChesPenn Health Services. The mobile access to dental care that Chester Smiles will provide will complement the work of established providers in the area that provide dental services.
“I think it’s a great idea that Keystone Mercy and Dentex will be teaming up with Chester to offer more dental services to its residents,” said Nicole Hudson, resident of Chester. “Even though I have health insurance through my job, it doesn’t cover dental. Having something like this will help me out tremendously, because it is expensive to get a regular dental checkup every year, especially without insurance.
“This mobile will not only help people like myself who don’t have dental insurance, but it will also give another option in addition to the dental offices,” she added. “I think the mobile will not only be successful, but it will also help people live a healthier life.”