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CAA lands $300K grant for dental program

The Community Action Agency of Columbiana County’s Dental program recently was awarded a $300,000 grant to update and replace equipment and expand services. Employees outside the Lisbon Dental Office are, from left, CEO Thomas E. Andrews; Tana May; Becky Wise; Danielle Ryan; Kaitlyn Gorby; Morgan Rance; Helen Cochran; Dr. Magda Sawiriss; Dr. Marybeth Shaffer, Dental Director; Jodine Hull; Dr. Mona Meky; COO Jenna Wonner; and MaryLynn Ramey, Dental Manager. (Submitted photo)

LISBON — A first-of-its-kind grant focusing on oral health infrastructure has been awarded to the Community Action Agency of Columbiana County’s (CAACC) dental program, and officials are excited about the opportunities the grant funding brings.

Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the CAACC dental program was awarded $300,000 to update and replace equipment, as well as expand services, according to Dr. Marybeth Shaffer, Dental Director.

“This grant was a surprise opportunity,” Shaffer said. “And we were one of the few rural communities to receive this grant.”

Jenna Wonner, who serves as Chief Operating Officer for CAA Health, Behavioral Health and Dental Centers, noted the grant was highly competitive. HRSA awarded a total of $85 million to 298 health centers out of the 834 organizations that applied nationwide.

“We were one of 12 in the state of Ohio to be awarded. Thank you to Dr. Shaffer and Mary Lynn Ramey, Dental Manager, for their hard work on preparing the application and their dedication to CAA Dental.”

Shaffer explained the grant will allow for some new equipment at the Lisbon dental office.

“Our equipment is 20 years old,” Shaffer said, so the “intent is to refurbish the facility,” which will include dental furnishings and other equipment as well as infrastructure for the facility’s Internet technology.

Shaffer also noted she is excited about incorporating integrated oral health services into the CAACC’s dental program through the use of teledentistry services. She explained that service would allow a hygienist to travel to another facility and perform cleanings. “The hygienist could take a picture of someone’s teeth,” or a problem area inside the mouth, “and send that picture through a computer to a dentist to examine,” she said.

Officials first hope to utilize the teledentistry option with CAACC’s Head Start program. Future plans could include going into area schools and nursing homes.

“Receiving this grant shows the need in our community, and we are excited that our hard work was recognized and awarded,” said Ramey. “This grant will give us the opportunity to upgrade and purchase new equipment, allowing us to provide a better experience for our patients.”

The HRSA grant also will allow the Lisbon dental center to utilize a new portable vacuum, portable chair and portable X-ray equipment.

“The goal is to offer preventative services and improve oral health, but in improving oral health, we are improving overall health,” Shaffer noted.

And integrating oral health with medical health is something the dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and staff at the CAACC’s dental centers have been doing for a while. By checking dental patients’ blood pressure and looking for signs of diabetes and other ailments and then sharing that with the CAA’s medical providers, the overall well-being of each patient is being observed.

Shaffer believes that early detection of oral diseases can help to prevent other health issues down the road, and she said that even applies to children.

“We want to see children by age 1,” she said. “That’s all part of integrating oral and medical health, and we want to emphasize that early to parents.”

“We are honored and excited to be recipients of this grant. As part of our strategic planning, we have focused on improving infrastructure within our entire organization as well as ensuring all residents can receive access to quality services – this grant assists us in improving both” said Thomas E. Andrews, Chief Executive Officer. “At CAACC we serve the whole community and serve the whole person.”

Besides the CAA Dental Center at Lisbon located at 38722 Saltwell Road, the CAA has a dental facility inside its CAA East Liverpool Campus Building No. 1 at 16480 St. Clair Avenue, and also offers dental services at the Salineville CAA Health and Dental Center, Melhorn, at 103 W. Main St.

The CAA dental centers are accepting new patients, and to make an appointment call (330) 424-4192.

Services offered include dental exams and X-rays; cleanings and fluoride treatments, extractions, fillings, dental education and oral hygiene instruction.

CAACC dental offices accept all Ohio Medicaid managed care plans and most private insurances, and patients can schedule a visit without a referral. A sliding fee scale, based on a patient’s income and family size, is offered to those who are uninsured.

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