SmileCare Everywhere Mobile Dental Clinic Receives Grant from Providence Health & Services

Providence Health & Services LogoPacific University has received a $20,000 grant from Providence Health & Services to provide access to preventative dental care to uninsured/under-insured low-income Latino populations of Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah and Yamhill counties. 

The grant supports the SmileCare Everywhere program, which was established in 2013 in collaboration with community organizations, to provide dental hygiene services to underserved populations, particularly those lacking dental insurance. Pacific’s School of Dental Hygiene Studies students and faculty provide exams, dental hygiene services and patient education in a mobile dental clinic traveling to patients.

The grant from Providence Health & Services will provide support for an existing partnership between the Pacific University School of Dental Hygiene Studies, Providence Oregon Community Health Division, local parishes from Washington, Clackamas, Multnomah and Yamhill counties, and community volunteers including Los Promotores de Salud (Parish Health Promoter Program) and other community organizations. Pacific’s SmileCare Everywhere program provides the mobile clinic, the dental hygienists and dental care, while Providence Oregon Community Health Division provides funds to cover additional dental treatments when needed. Los Promotores de Salud — volunteers seeking to build healthier communities through parish-based health promotion and leadership training in the Latino community — promotes the clinics in their parishes, schedules the appointments and follow-up care, and reserves space for the SmileCare van. 

“Providence, through their program ‘Los Promotores de Salud’ has been supporting our SmileCare Everywhere program since 2103 with both financial support and volunteers,” said Pacific assistant professor and dental outreach coordinator Wilber Ramirez-Rodriguez. “Financial support from Providence subsidizes the cost of treatments for the patients seen during the clinics at the Catholic Parishes,” Ramirez-Rodriguez explained, “while Pacific provides the mobile dental clinics and trains Los Promotores de Salud volunteers in oral health care.”    

Faced with health system and cultural barriers, many in the Latino communities in Oregon are unable and, at times, reluctant to access dental care. As a result, these communities seek dental care only as the last resort, and often through emergency department services. 

“Dental hygiene services are important and impact a person’s overall health,” said Lisette Romig, clinical outreach coordinator for the EyeSmile program, which is a collaboration between the School for Dental Hygiene Studies and the College of Optometry, providing interdisciplinary care. “However, these services are most likely to be unavailable to patients in our community due to lack of insurance and access. SmileCare Everywhere strives to overcome these barriers by bringing the services to the people who most need it at a location which is convenient and safe and where patients from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds can receives culturally competent care without being judged or discriminated against.”

Providence Health & Services in Oregon is a not-for-profit network of hospitals, health plans, physicians, clinics, home health services and affiliated health services. As part of the greater Providence Health & Services, with services in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and California, they continue a tradition of caring that the Sisters of Providence began nearly 160 years ago. 

In addition to its partnership with Pacific’s health professions programs, Providence also is the largest healthcare employer of Pacific alumni. Growing partnerships between Pacific and Providence include a special alumni-employee celebration in June, as well as burgeoning job recruitment opportunities for Pacific students.

Pacific University is committed to inspiring students to think, care, create and pursue justice. Gifts to the university support its $80 million fundraising campaign, Lead On: The Campaign for Tomorrow at Pacific University, which seeks to grow endowments, learning environments and innovations for a boundless future for students. To learn how to support student scholarships, outreach programs like SmileCare Everywhere and other programs, visit pacificu.edu/lead-on.

Jun. 14, 2018