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Wood County Schools, MOVHD offer free dental program

PARKERSBURG — Wood County Schools and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department since 2008 have been partners in providing free dental services to area students.

The Oral Disease Prevention Program between the school system and the health department provides a mobile dental unit to visit schools and perform evaluations and services for qualifying students. The focus is on students who do not receive regular dental care.

Julie Bertram, Wood County Schools Coordinator of Health Services, said the health department provides a hygienist and assistant and medical billing and the school system provides coordination and facilities.

“We have been working to build this program with (health department Oral Health Coordinator) Mary Beth Shea since 2008,” Bertram said. “We began the program by setting up mini clinics in our buildings with portable equipment, but now we use the Wood County Schools Mobile Health and Emergency Services unit.”

School nurses help identify students who have not seen a dentist in the prior year, Bertram said. Parents are contacted and dental consent forms are sent home with each child.

Then the nurses create the schedule for their assigned two-day clinic rotation. Every school in Wood County is assigned two days or more if needed for students to receive dental cleaning, screenings and sealants.

The program is funded in part by a grant from the West Virginia Oral Health Program to offset administrative and equipment costs.

Bertram said the program serves about 450 students each year and about 10 percent of those students end up requiring urgent care.

The health department “works with local dentists and the families to get those children the restorative care they need,” Bertram said. “We are very proud of this school-based health service.”

Contact Tyler Bennett at tbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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