Taylorville Memorial Hospital’s community health needs assessment identified access to pediatric dental services as a high-priority need. TMH spearheaded creation of a workgroup to address that need, bringing together hospital staff, Taylorville Community School District officials and local dentists, as well as other community members.
The Pediatric Dental group consists of Dave Trost, DDS from Miles of Smiles, Ltd., Greg Haarman, DMD from Central Illinois Smiles, Reverend Bill Kerns from the Taylorville Ministerial Association, Dr. Gregg Fuerstenau from the Taylorville Community School District #3 and Raedena Ryan from the Taylorville Memorial Hospital Foundation. Together, they identify children who could benefit from this program and facilitate logistics to help them get dental care.
Initially, the goal was to help six students, K through 12, who have urgent dental care needs. To date, five students have been referred by Miles of Smiles, Ltd. and have been seen for an initial exam and x-ray, of which three have been referred for follow-up care. Dr. Fuerstenau and a school nurse made transportation arrangements to Central Illinois Smiles who provided treatment and covered the costs.
“For children who lack dental care, a toothache can be a huge problem – making it hard to concentrate in school and affecting their overall health,” said superintendent of TCSD #3 Dr. Gregg Fuerstenau.
A grant from the Taylorville Kiwanis club of $2500 matched with another $2500 by the TMH Foundation will be used to fund oral surgery and other services beyond what Dr. Haarman’s clinic can provide. Meanwhile, Central Illinois Smiles has committed to treating up to two students per month free of charge during the current school year.
“This effort helps kids be kids, and dream and learn without that pain and discomfort. The hospital is committed to improving the health of the people and communities it serves,” said TMH Foundation executive director Raedena Ryan. “We are living out our mission to support health.”