The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded more than $85 million to 298 health centers to expand their oral health service capacity through new infrastructure enhancements.
These investments are the first by HRSA to solely focus on oral health infrastructure and will enable HRSA-funded health centers to provide new or enhance existing oral health services.
“Health centers play a key role in providing access to a comprehensive range of services Americans need to stay healthy, and that includes high-quality oral healthcare,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
“Early detection of oral diseases can prevent much more costly health challenges and improve Americans’ health, which is the ultimate goal of President Trump’s vision for our healthcare system,” said Azar.
“These are the first awards HRSA has ever made solely for health centers’ oral healthcare infrastructure, and they will support better access to oral health services in communities across the country, including underserved urban and rural areas,” said Azar.
The awards of up to $300,000 each will support physical and organizational infrastructure investments for health centers such as:
- Minor alteration and renovation to modernize existing facilities
- Purchase and installation of dental and radiology equipment
- Training and consultation to increase oral health integration
- Purchase of mobile dental units to increase access to oral healthcare in hard to reach communities
“Access to high-quality, integrated oral healthcare is essential to the early detection of oral diseases, which are critical to preventing future, often costly, health issues,” said Acting HRSA Administrator Tom Engels.
“These awards, which are the first of their kind, will help health centers tackle limitations in infrastructure, such as outdated equipment and insufficient space, and improve access to integrated, oral health services in primary care settings in communities across the country,” Engels said.
In 2018, HRSA-funded health centers served more than 6.4 million dental patients, a 13% increase from 2016, and provided more than 16.5 million dental visits
For more than 50 years, health centers have delivered affordable, accessible, quality, and cost-effective primary healthcare services to patients, the HRSA reports. Today, nearly 1,400 health centers operate approximately 12,000 service delivery sites nationwide.