Arcora Foundation awards $500,000 in grants to help address unmet dental care needs

Child receives care from community health center dentist

Grants enable expanded access to essential dental care at two Puget Sound clinics, underscores value of community health centers.

Greater access to essential dental care will soon be available in Snohomish and Pierce counties. Residents who face barriers to preventive oral health care and dental treatments will have more options.

Arcora Foundation—which advances oral health across Washington state—awarded a total of $500,000 to two community health centers to help expand capacity and access to care. The two non-profits—Community Health Care in Pierce County and Community Health Center of Snohomish County—will help expand dental access in both regions for families with lower incomes, seniors on fixed incomes, veterans, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color, and rural residents.

“Communities across Washington state have unmet care needs,” said Arcora Foundation President and CEO Vanetta Abdellatif. “With partnerships like these, together we can help ensure more people reach their full potential for good oral and overall health with no one left behind.”

The $500,000 in grant funding is part of Arcora Foundation’s long-term, statewide effort to increase dental care access. Arcora has invested more than $10 million in grant funding to community health centers and nonprofit clinics throughout the state, including in King, Spokane, Clark, Clallam, Whatcom, Ferry, and Yakima counties.

Oral health is essential to overall health.

A healthy mouth is more than a nice smile. Good oral health is one of the most visible indicators of socioeconomic status and health equity. Poor oral health is linked to heart disease, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and other chronic conditions. Visible decay and tooth loss for adults can affect employment opportunities, nutrition, self-esteem, and how others perceive you. For children, painful cavities can affect school attendance, speech patterns, nutrition, self-confidence, and oral health in adulthood.

More care options and efficiency for patients.

Community Health Care in Pierce County will use their $250,000 grant from Arcora Foundation for a new clinic in downtown Puyallup. It will provide whole person care with integrated dental, medical, and behavioral health services. Once completed in spring of 2024, the new clinic will have 8 open and 4 closed dental operatories to accommodate an estimated 20,000 dental visits a year.

“Over the last 10 years, Arcora Foundation’s vital financial support has allowed us to treat 190,715 patients with 502,125 visits,” said Jeff Reynolds, DMD, Community Health Care dental director. “With this grant, we will continue to help more people with barriers access dental care.”

The $250,000 grant Community Health Center of Snohomish County received from Arcora Foundation will go toward the expansion of its Everett-Central Clinic. The redeveloped clinic will add dental services, eliminating the need for patients to make medical and dental appointments at multiple locations. The dental clinic will include 12 new dental operatories and provide approximately 13,100 new dental patient visits annually. The opening date is set for mid-August of 2022.

“Arcora’s grant allows us to connect more people to dental care when and where they need it,” said Sue Yoon, DMD, chief dental officer for Community Health Center of Snohomish County. “This is a major step in making patient access to dental and medical services easier, which benefits everyone.”

The importance of community health centers.

Community health centers are essential to providing quality medical, oral, and mental health care to communities that are underserved. Aug. 7-13 is National Health Center Week. This observance raises awareness of the accomplishments of health centers across the country each year.

Thanks to community health centers, people who might not otherwise have access to or afford it receive compassionate and comprehensive care. Throughout Washington state, more than 1.2 million patients receive care at more than 350 community health centers each year.

About Arcora Foundation

Arcora Foundation advances oral health across Washington state. We are the foundation of Delta Dental of Washington, and the state’s largest foundation dedicated to this cause. We center our work in equity to achieve good oral health for all. Through partnerships, we focus our prevention and access priorities on racial and ethnic communities—specifically Black, Indigenous, and People of Color—where disparities in oral disease and access to care are significant. Our mission is in our name: bending the arc of oral health toward equity. Learn more at ArcoraFoundation.org.

About Community Health Care

Community Health Care is a nonprofit healthcare system that has been serving the people of Pierce County since 1969. At Community Health Care, no one is denied care due to inability to pay. Uninsured and under-insured patients are billed on a sliding-fee scale based on income and family size. In 2021, a total of 46,337 patients were served through 167,149 patient visits, utilizing our 6 medical clinics, 4 dental clinics, 1 school-based clinic, and a mobile unit. Our mission: to provide the highest quality health care with compassionate service for all. To learn more, visit www.commhealth.org

About Community Health Center of Snohomish County

Community Health Center of Snohomish County (CHC) is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Community Health Center providing medical, dental, pharmacy, behavioral health, and additional ancillary services to nearly 70,000 individuals with 243,049 visits in 2021. For over 35 years, CHC has provided services to Snohomish County residents who face barriers to health care with the mission to provide our diverse community with access to high quality, affordable primary health care. CHC operates seven medical primary care clinics, two medical walk-in clinics, six dental clinics, and five pharmacies, located in convenient locations in Arlington, Edmonds, North Everett, Central Everett, South Everett, and Lynnwood. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 425-789-3789 or visit www.CHCsno.org.

Press Release: Arcora Foundation Grants Will Help 17 Tribes Address Coronavirus Impacts

For immediate release: August 11, 2020

SEATTLE – With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to have a major impact in many areas of the state, especially in communities of color, Arcora Foundation has provided $1,085,000 in grants to 17 Washington tribes to help their dental clinics meet essential oral health needs.

Lower-income people in Washington experience significant health disparities, and the disparities are even more substantial among Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Many of the tribes receiving grants are in rural areas and may be the only place to get care and operate in challenging financial circumstances with small margins and large percentages of low-income and indigent patients. Despite these difficulties, tribes lead the way in developing and implementing innovative, culturally appropriate models of delivering health care, including dental care.

Arcora Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving oral health and advancing health equity all across the state, is funded by not-for-profit Delta Dental of Washington (DDWA), the state’s largest dental benefits provider. Together they work toward a shared vision that all people enjoy good oral and overall health, with no one left behind.

“We can’t stress it enough – oral health is essential to overall health, and that remains true during this pandemic,” said Arcora Foundation President and CEO Vanetta Abdellatif.  “Gum disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes complications and respiratory illnesses, which are major risk factors for COVID-19. Oral disease also is linked to stroke and pregnancy complications. Making sure people have access to oral health care is an equity issue and remains critically important.”

Tribes, including their dental programs were hit especially hard by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with stay-at-home orders and other requirements first limiting patient visits. Then came a two-month period when dental providers were required to suspend all non-emergent care due to COVID-19. Loss of revenue forced clinics to reduce expenses, lay off employees and expend financial reserves. Yet, many continued to provide emergent care.

Dental programs were permitted to reopen in June but under significant restrictions to protect the health of both staff and patients. The need for social distancing, challenges with rehiring staff and other issues have limited the number of patient visits, while the costs of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other equipment and materials to ensure safety have imposed additional unforeseen costs.

Most tribes received about $70,000 from Arcora Foundation. The funds will be used to purchase additional PPE and other safety equipment, make capital improvements to protect staff and patients, train staff, and to buy teledentistry equipment and additional minimally invasive dentistry supplies.

“The grant money will enable clinics to focus as much of their resources as possible specifically on patient care,” said Joe Finkbonner, a member of the Arcora Board of Trustees and the Lummi Tribe. “That’s important, because with the long closure and continuing limitation on the number of patients that can be seen at any one time, there will continue to be a significant backlog of people who need to get in for dental care. It is an honor to support tribes in continuing to improve the oral health of American Indian/Alaska Native people.”

Ticey Mason, director of the Northwest Tribal Dental Support Center and Siletz tribal member said: “During this pandemic, we have all learned to smile with our eyes, but let’s not forget about the smile under that mask. We are grateful for Arcora Foundation’s support to help us implement the innovations and changes our dental programs need to insure American Indian/Alaska Native people have good oral and overall health. We are strong and resilient people, and perseverance is in our DNA. We have survived pandemics in the past, and we will survive this one too.”

The Tribes and clinics receiving funds are:

  • Jamestown S’Klallam – Jamestown Family Dental Clinic, Sequim
  • Kalispel – Camas Center Dental Clinic, Cusick
  • Lummi – Lummi Tribal Health Clinic, Bellingham
  • Makah – Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center, Neah Bay
  • Puyallup – Puyallup Tribal Health Authority, Tacoma
  • Swinomish – Swinomish Dental Clinic, LaConner
  • Tulalip – Karen I Fryberg Clinic, Tulalip
  • Lower Elwah S’Klallam – Lower Elwha Dental Clinic, Port Angeles
  • Muckleshoot – Muckleshoot Dental Clinic, Auburn
  • Chehalis – CTWC Clinic, Oakville
  • Squaxin Island – Squaxin Island Dental Clinic, Shelton
  • Nooksack – Nooksack Tribal Dental Clinic, Deming
  • Quinault – Quinault Indian Nation Roger Saux Health Center, Taholah
  • Port Gamble – Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Dental Clinic, Kingston
  • Nisqually – Nisqually Tribe Dental Clinic, Olympia
  • Colville – Lake Roosevelt Community Health Center, Inchelium
  • Shoalwater Bay – Shoalwater Bay Dental Clinic, Tokeland

In addition to the latest grants to tribes, Arcora Foundation and Delta Dental of Washington have responded to the pandemic with other efforts including:

  • $3 million in grants to community health centers, and non-profit dental centers that serve as a safety net for at-risk individuals and families.
  • More than $350,000 for community foundations, hunger relief organizations and local nonprofits providing food and essential services to families, seniors and vulnerable populations.
  • $23 million to DDWA member dentists across the state to offset losses, help retain staff, and acquire needed equipment.
  • Expanding the free DentistLink dental referral service to meet the increased demand of people needing urgent dental care.

Contact:

Nancy Hammond
Arcora Foundation
P: (206)755-4716
NHammond@ArcoraFoundation.org

 

About Arcora Foundation

Arcora Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to improving oral health and advancing health equity by partnering with communities to prevent oral disease, transform health systems, and increase access to care. Funded by nonprofit Delta Dental of Washington, the state’s largest dental benefit company, we work toward a shared vision: all people enjoy good oral and overall health, with no one left behind. For more information, visit: ArcoraFoundation.org.

Press Release: Arcora Foundation Provides $4 Million to Help Dental Safety Net and Tribal Clinics Deal with the Impacts of COVID-19

Many safety net dental clinics are facing unprecedented financial challenges.

Arcora Foundation Provides $4 Million to Help Dental Safety Net and Tribal Clinics Deal with the Impacts of COVID-19

For immediate release: June 23, 2020

SEATTLE, WA – Safety net and tribal dental clinics received much needed support today. Arcora Foundation announced grants totaling $4 million to safety net and tribal dental clinics throughout Washington to help prevent the loss of essential oral health care for tens of thousands of vulnerable people due to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. Arcora Foundation is funded by not-for-profit Delta Dental of Washington (DDWA).

Community health centers (CHCs), tribal and Urban Indian dental programs and non-profit dental centers are at the front line of health care services for many at-risk individuals and families in the state, providing free, sliding fee and Medicaid reimbursed dental care to meet immediate and long-term oral health needs. CHCs alone serve 30% of the state’s Medicaid-enrolled children and 54% of Medicaid-enrolled adults who receive dental services. These clinics deliver more than 1 million dental visits annually.

About half of CHCs are in rural areas and are often the only dental care available in the region. Many tribal and non-profit dental clinics are in underserved areas. Lower-income people in Washington experience significant health disparities and the disparities are even more significant among Black, Indigenous and other people of color. Oral health disparities were a key consideration and priority for grant funding decisions.

“Oral health is essential to overall health, and these clinics are the safety net many communities need to have access to care,” said Arcora Foundation President and CEO Vanetta Abdellatif. “The pandemic has already reduced access, which can have far-reaching consequences on people’s health, the workforce and the economy. We are committed to minimizing these negative impacts by helping the safety net clinics during this difficult time. They are essential for health equity.”

In March, dental providers were required to suspend all non-emergent care due to COVID-19; many were already limiting services to conserve supplies of protective personal equipment and to decrease the potential of viral exposure to patients and staff.

CHCs, tribal and non-profit clinics saw a reduction in dental care services by 90% in recent months. The revenue loss forced many clinics to cut staff and other expenses, and some depleted financial reserves. Though dental clinics were able to start seeing patients for non-emergent care in mid-May after a two-month shutdown, the economic losses are expected to continue due in large part to infection-control and social distancing guidelines, the need to rehire staff and other issues that affect a clinics’ ability to ramp up and serve increasing numbers of patients.

In addition, the need for these clinics is expected to increase. Washington’s Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Apple Health (Medicaid) program, projects an increase in Medicaid enrollees and newly uninsured patients in the next six months, placing additional demands on burdened safety net clinics.

A recent economic analysis estimated that CHCs in this state could lose up to $473 million across medical, dental and behavioral health services without federal relief or operational adjustments. That means as many as 16 CHCs could exhaust their operating reserves and have to shut down multiple sites. As a result, more than 600,000 vulnerable patients could lose their primary care provider.

“We felt this was an important time to augment our annual contribution to Arcora Foundation,” said Delta Dental of Washington Chief Mission Officer Diane Oakes. “Arcora is supporting clinics that provide vital oral health services for people across Washington. These clinics must be sustained especially as the need for health services continues to grow.”

Arcora Foundation has assisted safety net clinics in reducing disparities in care due to systemic racism and work toward a vision that all people can enjoy good oral health and overall health, with no one left behind. Since 2001, Arcora has invested more than $17 million in safety net clinics to expand access to dental care for the most vulnerable in this state. Arcora also sponsors a learning network so Dental Directors can share best practices and learn from each other.

The CHC’S and non-profit dental clinics receiving funding from Arcora Foundation include:

  • Community Health of Central Washington
  • Community Health Center of Snohomish County
  • Community Health Care Tacoma
  • Country Doctor
  • Free Clinic of Southwest Washington
  • Grace Clinic
  • HealthPoint
  • International Community Health Services
  • Lahai Health
  • Lindquist Dental Clinic for Children
  • Neighborcare Health
  • North Olympic Healthcare Network
  • Northeast Washington Health
  • Peninsula Community Health Services
  • SeaMar
  • Upper Valley MEND
  • Valley View Health Center
  • Yakima Neighborhood Health Services

“We are thankful for the continued support that Arcora Foundation continues to provide to safety net clinics across Washington. This funding will improve our ability to serve as many patients as we can accommodate safely as quickly as possible,” said Bob Marsalli, Chief Executive Officer, Washington Association for Community Health. “Many patients who need care have been unable to get it for several months, so there is a pent-up demand. There will be even more people who have lost their insurance or are on Medicaid and need care.”

Tribal clinics also will receive a portion of the funding. Specific grants to tribal clinics will be finalized in the next few weeks.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Arcora Foundation and DDWA have contributed more than $350,000 to nonprofits across the state help address immediate needs such as food security. DDWA is also contributing $40 million in grants and advance payments to DDWA member dentists across the state to offset losses, help retain staff and acquire needed equipment, as well as $33 million in premium assistance to customers.

 

Contact:

Nancy Hammond
Arcora Foundation
P: (206)755-4716
NHammond@ArcoraFoundation.org

 

About Arcora Foundation

Arcora Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to improving oral health and advancing health equity by partnering with communities to prevent oral disease, transform health systems, and increase access to care. Funded by nonprofit Delta Dental of Washington, the state’s largest dental benefit company, we work toward a shared vision: all people enjoy good oral and overall health, with no one left behind. For more information, visit: ArcoraFoundation.org.

About Delta Dental of Washington

Delta Dental of Washington is the state’s leading dental benefits provider, covering nearly 3 million people in Washington state and nationally. As the only not-for-profit carrier dedicated to improving oral health in Washington, Delta Dental plays a vital role extending access to care for the underserved and vulnerable populations through the Arcora Foundation, corporate philanthropy and oral health advocacy – to ensure all people enjoy good oral health and overall health, with no one left behind. For more information, visit: DeltaDentalWA.com.

Press Release: 75th Anniversary of Water Fluoridation

hands holding cups of water

Washington state lags behind the nation in providing lauded public health measure

Water fluoridation: A public health achievement celebrates 75th anniversary

SEATTLE – Saturday (Jan. 25th) marks the 75th anniversary of community water fluoridation in the United States.

On January 25, 1945, Grand Rapids, Mich. became the first US city to fluoridate its drinking water, thus guaranteeing the optimal balance of fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent cavities. Since then, major cities, suburban communities, small towns and military bases throughout the US have followed suit.

Today, 74.4% of US residents – more than 211 million – enjoy the benefits of improved oral health through the simple act of drinking tap water. Statewide, 56% of Washington residents have access to fluoride in their drinking water. In King County, about 80% of residents have access to the benefits of drinking water with fluoride.

“Water fluoridation is one of the most cost-effective and equitable measures communities can take to protect teeth and prevent painful cavities,” said Rachael Hogan, DDS, Swinomish Tribe dental director and Arcora Foundation board member. “That is why the Swinomish Tribe has provided this valuable public health benefit for more than 30 years. Regrettably, that’s not the case for far too many in our state.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists water fluoridation as one of the Top 10 public health triumphs of the 20th Century alongside seatbelts, workplace safety and vaccinations.

Fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter and is found in virtually all water supplies, including lakes, rivers and the Puget Sound. Water with fluoride strengthens tooth enamel as it forms and helps protect against acids that cause decay. Studies consistently demonstrate that providing the right balance of fluoride in water helps reduce cavities by 25% for people of all ages, regardless of socioeconomic status.

Everyone — even people with good access to dental care — benefits from community water fluoridation. It is an equitable approach to prevent cavities without regard to race, ethnicity, age or income because it is available to the entire community. It is particularly beneficial for people living in underserved communities who often face barriers to obtaining routine and preventive oral health care.

“Cavities are preventable, but they remain one of the most widespread diseases, second only to the common cold,” said Marcy Bowers, Statewide Poverty Action Network executive director. “But unlike a case of the sniffles, poor oral health can have lasting effects, impacting overall health, school attendance, job prospects, self-esteem and how others relate to you. Water fluoridation provides added protection across the population, helping to reduce health disparities.”

Water fluoridation also has been shown to save money for families, employers, the health care system, and state and federal governments. An economic analysis found that fluoridation provides nearly $6.5 billion a year in net cost savings in the US by avoiding dental care related to fillings, crowns and extractions and indirect costs related to lost productivity and follow-up treatments.

Learn more about the benefits of water fluoridation at www.cdc.gov/fluoridation.

 

Contact:

Cecilia Nguyen Sorci
Pacific Public Affairs
P: (206)682-5066
cecilia@pacificpub.com

About Arcora Foundation

Arcora Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to improving oral health and health equity by partnering with communities to prevent oral disease, transform health systems, and increase access to care. Funded by nonprofit Delta Dental of Washington, the state’s largest dental benefits company, Arcora Foundation works toward a shared vision: All people enjoy good oral and overall health, with no one left behind. For more information, visit ArcoraFoundation.org.

Grant will allow S’Klallam tribe to expand dental care

LITTLE BOSTON — A $100,000 health grant from the Arcora Foundation will provide seven dental operatory chairs inside a new integrated Health Services building for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.

“We haven’t always had the best access to dental care,” said Jolene Sullivan, director of Health Services for the tribe. “Patients used to receive care in a single-wide trailer. Sometimes you’d be in the middle of an appointment and some of the equipment would shut off.”

Sullivan said she received dental care from the trailer as a child, and since then the operation has grown to live in a permanent structure.

The current facility, however, cannot sufficiently support those eligible for care, including all enrolled tribal members in Kitsap County with or without insurance and non-tribal members with Medicaid.

The new health facility — built in part with $2 million from the state’s capital budget — and the addition of one part-time dentist and dental health aid therapist, will enable oral health patient capacity to double, Sullivan said.

“Though we have many who regularly visit the medical clinic,” Sullivan said, “less receive dental care.”

Only 30 percent of those on Medicaid on the Olympic Peninsula use their dental benefits, said Diane Oakes, president and CEO of Arcora, adding that “Natives tend to have higher rates of oral disease.”

 “Those with poor oral health have a harder time finding jobs and kids will have a harder time learning,” she said.

The dental services provided will include preventive care such as routine hygiene, restorative care including fillings, sealants, oral cancer screenings, endodontics and periodontics.

Arcora is the nonprofit foundation of Delta Dental, which strives to increase access to oral healthcare to low-income areas.

The grant will also increase preventative education, which is an important element for tribal members, Sullivan said.

After having limited access to oral care and traumatic experiences, tribal members hold on to anxiety, Sullivan said.  They “were afraid to come back.”

“Now we only see those with extreme dental needs because they let it go so long.”

The dental health aid therapist will be breaking that fear barrier by going out into the community to visit elders in their home and “work up to coming into the clinic,” Sullivan said.

The program hopes to train native tribal members in the dental health aid therapist role to increase the comfort level of patients.

The 22,500-square-foot, two-story medical facility design by Blue Architecture of Bremerton is budgeted at $8.1 million, and construction is set to begin this fall.

The design is intended to provide a casual community atmosphere with a social space in the main lobby featuring a cafe and seating area.The ground floor will host primary and dental care with behavioral health, chemical dependency, group therapy, and community outreach program spaces on the second floor.

The second level will also offer a kitchen and conference room for internal and community use.

“It’s gonna be a fully integrated care facility,” S’Klallam tribal member Kim Freewolf said.

“Now we can make sure the whole person is taken care of better.”

By Isabella Breda