Among the damaging side effects of the pandemic has been the toll taken on Americans’ oral health, a crucial and often overlooked aspect of a person’s healthcare. As with COVID itself, it is the vulnerable communities hardest hit by the crisis, including those residing in New York City homeless shelters, who are most likely to be impacted and develop long-term oral health problems, without a solution in reach.
To mitigate such impacts and provide direct access to care, one on-the-ground organization, Care For the Homeless (CFH), created remote adaptations to expand oral health access for homeless New Yorkers. Dr. Mark Makiling, pictured here with colleagues during CFH’s annual Health Care for the Homeless Day, came up with the idea of implementing portable oral health equipment.
In support of this work, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation granted $250,000 for CFH to expand its dental services to five shelter sites in the Bronx and Manhattan while incorporating teledentistry to make oral healthcare more accessible and to increase patient engagement.
With a 36-year history of delivering high-quality and client-centered healthcare, human services, and shelter to homeless individuals and families in NYC, the nonprofit will provide dental services to nearly 375 patients experiencing homeless; an estimated 88% of whom have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty.
The grant will support staff salaries as well as support supplies, teledentistry equipment costs, and pharmacy and laboratory expenses for uninsured patients.
Expanding teledentistry, bringing services directly to individuals experiencing homelessness, and removing a significant barrier to dental healthcare access will ensure a positive long-term impact on the health of New York City’s most vulnerable populations and the overall health of the city.