Oral Health on Wheels
JCCC’s Oral Health on Wheels, a 40-foot mobile dental clinic, is an innovative approach to dental hygiene education and public health. Purchased with monies from grants and in-kind donations, OHOW began full operation as a clinical rotation for JCCC dental hygiene students in August 2008, under the supervisions of Heather Flick, JCCC professor, dental hygiene, and principal OHOW coordinator.
OHOW gives dental hygiene students the opportunity to gain patient care experiences with special-needs and underserved populations. As an extension of the on-site dental hygiene clinic at JCCC, OHOW provides dental hygiene assessment, treatment planning, preventive services, x-rays, dentist exams and referrals.
“The purpose of OHOW is to expand the clinical learning experiences of the JCCC dental hygiene student. Students are able to increase their clinical competence by treating clients in this innovative educational setting,” Flick said.
Treatment operations and student feedback have been successful. Dental hygiene treatment of clients served by OHOW for the 2009-2010 school year was estimated at a value of $72,787.
OHOW partners with two Johnson County service agencies (Johnson County Developmental Supports and Johnson County Health Department) and a local faith-based outreach center (Center of Grace, Olathe). Clients from these services centers make up the clinical patient population treated on OHOW.
JCDS serves Johnson County residents with developmental disabilities. OHOW service days are Mondays on site at JCDS.
Wednesday treatment locations alternate between the Johnson County Health Department and Center of Grace Outreach Center. JCHD clients treated on OHOW are pregnant women receiving medical and social services from the county. Research documents that pregnant women with poor oral health and reduced access to oral health care have increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. The clients scheduled on OHOW through the Center of Grace are predominantly Spanish speaking , enrolled in English language classes at Center of Grace and/or have children enrolled in the center’s preschool.
“We serve populations that have unmet dental needs,” Flick said. “Access to care is a problem, and many dentists do not take Medicaid.”
Since August 2008, second-year students spend a three-week rotation in the OHOW as part of their Clinic III/IV rotation schedule. A community pool of nine dentists make up the staff dentist position on the OHOW. An experienced Spanish-speaking translator completes the OHOW team.
Student surveys have been used to determine the degree to which OHOW increased the student awareness of underserved populations, cultural diversity, clinical skills and ethical patient care. Students report significant satisfaction with their OHOW experience.
JCCC’s van was purchased with donations and grant monies; the college pays for vehicle maintenance and staff dentists.