Ribbon Cutting at Ohio Street School: Left to Right:
Eve Van de Wal, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield; Joe Butler, Mayor, City of Watertown; Patti LaBarr, Superintendent, Watertown City School District; Henrique Montandon, 4th grade student, Ohio Street School; Teri Duffy, 4th grade student, Ohio Street School, Mark Taylor, Principal, Ohio Street School; and Mark Gaines, North Country Family Health Center Board Member and General Manager, NBC Watertown.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has awarded a $133,500 grant to the North Country Family Health Center (NCFHC) to purchase five mobile, school-based dental units to enhance NCFHC’s School-Based Dental Program. The grant will allow NCFHC to update its dental equipment and serve more students each year.
NCFHC provides school-based dental services at 12 school locations within five school districts throughout Jefferson and Lewis Counties and must continually move six existing portable dental units between the 12 sites. The new funding will allow NCFHC to purchase the additional mobile school-based dental units over a three-year period, 2018-2020, increase the School-Based Dental Program’s efficiency and almost double its capacity to serve children in need of preventive dental services.
“A big part of our mission at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is helping to improve the health of the communities we serve. We’re all becoming more aware of the significant role our oral and dental health plays in our overall health and well-being, so we are very excited to partner with the North Country Family Health Center to bring this school- based dental service directly to more local children throughout the region,” said Eve Van de Wal, regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Member and Community Health Improvement (MACHI) grant program provides funding to local, nonprofit organizations that share the organization’s vision for healthier communities. The initiatives supported span multiple years and include specific objectives and measurable outcomes for improving community health. The grant dollars are disbursed over several years to ensure they significantly and positively affect public health.
“Partnering with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will allow us to increase the number of children we serve within our School-Based Dental Program which means the difference of a child receiving preventive oral healthcare and education, or not, in many instances,” comments Joey Marie Horton, Executive Director, North Country Family Health Center. “Providing services to children directly where they are – in school – puts children at ease and allows parents to not have to worry about transportation, the cost of losing paid time at work to take their children to appointments, and out of pocket costs for services. The partnerships we have with local school districts and community supporters, such as Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, allow the Health Center to carry out its mission to improve the health and wellness of those in our community. We embrace these partnerships which allow us to provide more accessible care to children and their families.”
NCFHC operates school-based dental only sites at Alexandria Central School, Copenhagen Central School, Lowville Academy & Central School, Ohio Elementary in the Watertown City School District; Clarke Middle/High School in the South Jefferson School District; and Glenfield Elementary, Port Lyden Elementary, and South Lewis Middle/High School in the South Lewis School District.
NCFHC has been providing dental services to residents of the North Country for over 20 years through its community-based and school-based locations. NCFHC’s School-Based Dental Program began in 1994 and was the first school-based dental clinic in New York state to have a dental hygienist and part-time dentist working together to provide preventative and restorative dental services to students in school.
In addition to the dental sites, NCFHC also operates four comprehensive school-based health centers that provide medical, behavioral health, and dental services in the Watertown City and South Jefferson school districts, as well as two additional school-based health centers providing medical and behavioral health services in the Watertown City School District.
In 2017, more than 2,000 students utilized the NCFHC’s school-based services. No student is turned away from the School-Based Health Centers—students are seen for sickness, chronic health issues, annual physical exams, dental services, and counseling services to name a few. All services are provided with no out-of-pocket cost, including co- pays and deductibles, to families.