Heath department receives $100K award

Gordon Woods / Journal — The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department facilities in Clinton.

Award will help expand children’s dental services, update equipment

CLINTON – The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department has received a big boost to its children’s dental program.

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation announced Tuesday the the local health department is the recipient of its 2019 Wisdom Tooth Award. 

The $100,000 grant will help provide better access to oral health care for children in the two counties served by the department.  The Wisdom Tooth Award also will help the department upgrade its equipment and increase its number of dental hygienists as it expands dental services into high schools in the coming year.

Two out of five students in DeWitt and Piatt counties are from low-income families and need better access to dental care. While the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department provides dental checkups, sealants and treatments, outdated equipment has prevented  the department from serving more area children.

“With the Wisdom Tooth Award providing the funds needed to upgrade equipment, we will be able to focus more on patient care instead of equipment care,” said Teale Hall, dental program manager for the DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department. 

“In addition, these new upgrades will allow us to treat patients faster and more efficiently since we will not have to delay treatment due to equipment maintenance. Since many of our patients have not visited the dentist in a long time, they often have fears of anesthesia, drills and X-rays. When we have to delay treatment, patients have more time to give into their fears and not seek treatment for dental issues until it is desperately needed.”

The DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department has a dental clinic in Clinton, as well as a school sealant program, working with six local school districts and Head Start programs to bring oral health care to children who would not otherwise receive it. 

More than 1,800 children received dental services from the health department last year. The Wisdom Tooth Award will also allow the department to expand its school dental sealant program into area high schools.

“Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children,” Hall said. “Having a clinic that is integrated with the school program makes it easier for children to receive quality care. We go into the schools to apply dental sealants, which helps prevent cavities on children’s back teeth where the toothbrush sometimes can’t reach. Our school sealant program is growing, and we anticipate going into high schools with help from this grant as well.”

Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation grants the Wisdom Tooth Award to organizations that significantly improves the oral health of Illinois children.

“Since our mission is to improve the oral health of Illinois children, we are honored to present the 2019 Wisdom Tooth Award to DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Department, “said Lora Vitek, director of enterprise philanthropy and community benefit for Delta Dental of Illinois. 

“Children in DeWitt and Piatt counties are in urgent need of dental services. This award will allow the health department to more efficiently provide oral health care to these children and to expand the program into high schools, as well.” 

Past recipients of the Wisdom Tooth Award include: Promise Healthcare in Champaign (2013); St. Bernard Hospital Dental Center in Chicago (2014); Central Counties Health Centers, Inc. in Springfield (2015); Crusader Community Health in Rockford (2016); University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry (2017) and Macoupin County Public Health Department (2018).

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