Two West Virginia University (WVU) groups hope an upcoming free oral healthcare clinic for veterans reaches twice the number of patients as its inaugural event in 2019.
As Veterans Day approaches on November 11, the Center for Veteran, Military and Family Programs and the WVU School of Dentistry will welcome qualified patients on Friday, November 13 for Veterans Oral Health Day.
“Last fall, we discovered there was a greater need for assistance with oral healthcare among our veteran and military students at WVU as well as the general veteran community throughout north central West Virginia,” said Jerry Wood, director of the WVU veterans center. “In no time, we had 40 appointments scheduled for preliminary exams.”
A limited number of exams will be offered, and appointments must be scheduled in advance. More information is available at (304) 293-6208.
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, dental care coverage for veterans can depend on a number of factors including military service history and the veteran’s current health and living situation.
Also, there are multiple classes of coverage for eligible veterans with some limiting the care that is paid for through insurance. A lack of insurance or the funds to pay out-of-pocket leaves many veterans unable to receive dental care and treatment, WVU said.
Dental and dental hygiene students working under the direct supervision of the school’s faculty dentists will begin treating veterans at 9 am at the School of Dentistry.
Veterans can receive a comprehensive examination, x-rays, a cleaning, and treatment of any active disease in the mouth, including fillings and extractions. Any additional dental care that cannot be provided to the veteran during the clinic will be scheduled for follow-up care at the school.
“When these patients come in, we could be checking for not only the need for immediate treatment or urgent care, but we are also setting up care to prevent future oral healthcare problems. To be able to do that for as many as 80 veterans is a source of pride for us in contributing to our community,” said Fotinos Panagakos, DMD, interim dean of the dental school.
The cost of care for one veteran is estimated to be $250. The outreach program launched last year was popular among dental school alumni, WVU said. Funds for the treatment of the participating veterans have come from generous graduates and community donors, WVU added.
Donors can contribute to the oral healthcare fund for veterans online, entering Fund 2U201 when specifying the designation of their gift. Also, donors can contact Karen Coombs, director of development for the dental school, by emailing email@example.com or calling (304) 216-3784. Additional funds will be needed to cover follow-up care veterans may need after the clinic, WVU added.
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