Metro Community Health Centers (MCHC) is partnering with the New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry to open a federally qualified health center (FQHC) that will provide primary and specialty medical care as well as behavioral health services to primarily low-income and underserved patients, including medically and behaviorally complex patients.
The health center, which will open on October 1, is located on the first floor of the NYU College of Dentistry at 345 East 24th Street at First Avenue. It will be operated by MCHC, which currently operates five FQHCs throughout New York City as a subrecipient of the Sunset Park Health Council. The new center at NYU Dentistry will be the first in Manhattan. And like NYU Dentistry, it will accept Medicaid coverage.
“Locating our new health center at NYU College of Dentistry provides us with an opportunity to implement collaborative practice models that aim to better identify disease precursors and underlying conditions in order to improve overall health and well-being,” said Rita Bilello, DDS, chief executive officer of MCHC and graduate of NYU Dentistry.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance has recognized MCHC as a Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home. MCHC specializes in supporting patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities, complementing the care provided at NYU Dentistry’s Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities.
“Metro Community Health Centers’ new facility at NYU College of Dentistry will benefit many New Yorkers, but particularly our patients,” said Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, the Herman Robert Fox Dean of NYU Dentistry. “The center will reduce barriers for NYU dental patients in accessing medical and behavioral healthcare, as our students and staff can help to ensure smooth transitions from our dental clinics to these critical services.”
Having dental and medical care under one roof is uncommon but logical, NYU Dentistry said, given that oral and physical health are fundamentally intertwined. Poor oral health has been linked to increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, the school said. Systemic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes also increase the risk for periodontal disease.
“There is a significant need to coordinate care between dental and general healthcare providers in order to most effectively prevent disease and support overall wellness. This collaboration between NYU College of Dentistry and Metro Community Health Centers responds to the need to better align dental and medical treatment,” said Bilello.
In addition to expanding access to coordinated services for patients, the health center will provide a unique interprofessional educational opportunity for NYU Dentistry students that integrates dental and medical care. Two of MCHC’s centers already have training programs for NYU dental students, and the new center will provide an additional opportunity where students currently learn and care for patients.