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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
February 1, 2013

Recent grants from The Blue Ribbon Foundation are helping to provide dental care for nearly 1,000 uninsured patients

Wilkes-Barre, PA – February marks National Children’s Dental Health Month, and The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) has recently funded programs that will provide preventive dental care to at-risk children and their families throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

During 2012, approximately $18,000 in Foundation grants were awarded to dental health initiatives at two regional nonprofits, resulting in nearly 1,000 children and adults receiving check-ups, cleanings and sealants that will improve their long-term dental and physical health.

Locally, the Luzerne County Community College (LCCC) Foundation received an $8,000 grant to support services for the uninsured at the Benco Dental Clinic at the LCCC Health Sciences Center in downtown Nanticoke.  Blue Ribbon Foundation funds helped purchase supplies that were used to treat 480 at-risk children and adults, or more than 92 percent of the patients the Clinic served from August through December 2012.

Cathy Brown, Clinic director, said the grant helped serve a growing population of people in Luzerne and surrounding counties who do not have access to preventive dental care.  “There is not a lot of extra room in many household budgets for dental care,” Ms. Brown said. “That’s why we’re especially grateful when organizations such as The Blue Ribbon Foundation help us provide services to people who otherwise would have to go without it.”

This is the second grant awarded to the LCCC Foundation in support of the Clinic.  As a student teaching center, the Clinic provides services using student clinicians in tandem with volunteer licensed and certified professionals.  It operates four to five days a week from September through April.  Every spring, the Clinic schedules special office hours on a Saturday to provide sealants to more than 100 at-risk children at no cost to their parents or guardians.

“The LCCC Clinic has become an essential resource for families who have difficulty accessing dental health services on their own,” said Cynthia A. Yevich, executive director of The Blue Ribbon Foundation.  “Preventive dental care is an important step in avoiding serious health problems, and we’re pleased that Foundation funds are successfully being used to reach children and adults who are most at-risk.”

BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.  During its first decade of service, The Foundation has awarded nearly $10 million in grant funding to 170 nonprofits to help meet the health and wellness needs of more than 186,000 at-risk individuals.

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 540,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations it serves.