Patients typically are low-income adults who are uninsured or who have Medicaid or Medicare. The Mobile Dental Unit also serves veterans who are ineligible for dental care through the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The fully equipped trailer includes three treatment chairs and travels across six rural counties on a weekly rotation with dental hygienists and technicians.
The Marshall University School of Medicine also staffs the vehicle with a faculty dentist and dental residents, giving students the unique opportunity to apply their skills beyond the classroom and incorporate diversity in learning. The Mobile Dental Unit’s partners provide on-site access to the internet and utilities at no cost to the program.
“In just two years, the Mobile Dental Unit has provided more than $2.2 million worth of care to over 5,000 adults,” said Angie Settle, DNP, CEO and executive director of WV Health Right, which provides primary and specialty medical and dental care to 28,000 low-income, uninsured, and underinsured adults. It is the state’s oldest and largest free and charitable clinic.
“We’re already seeing marked success in terms of improved oral hygiene, reduced oral-related infection and oral-related emergency department visits, and a decrease in the number of workdays missed due to oral pain and infection,” said Settle.
“By filling a void in West Virginia’s healthcare safety net, the Mobile Dental Unit also provides a measure of comfort, support, and social justice for our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Settle.