Give Kids a Smile® Day Gets a Lucky Break in the Weather
Sunshine (not snow or ice) casts a bright light on One Community Health’s annual event, offering free dental and medical care for uninsured youth.
HOOD RIVER, Ore., Feb. 22, 2017 — With the weather of late, it was a big unknown whether events like One Community Health’s (OCH) recent Give Kids a Smile® Day would actually take place or not. After all, it’s no secret many activities over the recent months have been cancelled due to snow and ice around the Columbia River Gorge. But on February 14, Valentine’s Day, there was a window of sunshine between a couple of wintery, wet days. And with that break in the clouds, uninsured kids came to OCH to receive free dental and medical care.
“One Community Health purposefully chose Valentine’s Day to hold this year’s event,” says Elizabeth Aughney, DDS, Clinical Integration Director of OCH. “Give Kids a Smile® Day is an American Dental Association program that’s timed to coincide with National Children’s Dental Health Month. Since it all takes place in February, we thought holding it on Valentine’s Day would be fun. It turned out to be a great way to tap into the already festive, giving spirit of this happy day. And for a change, we weren’t having an ice storm!”
Between the dental and medical departments, OCH saw 18 uninsured youth, ranging in age from two to 18. A variety of services were offered: well-child checkups; immunizations; development screenings; assistance with enrollment in the Oregon Health Plan and Washington Apple Health; and dental exams, cleanings, x-rays and restorative services.
“Most of the children and teenagers came for dental services, most likely because this program has traditionally been all about dental health,” Aughney says. “However, in recent years, we’ve made this event more comprehensive by adding medical care to the menu of services. We did this because integrated services benefit our patients.
Of note, not too many years ago, Give Kids a Smile® would pull in dozens of uninsured kids in a single day. But with the recent expansion of health care coverage and more youth being insured in our area, the turnout for this event has dropped over the past few years. However, as Aughney points out, even with the expansion of health care coverage, some children and teens in our neighborhoods and schools remain uninsured and still need these vital services.
“That’s what Give Kids a Smile® Day is all about,” she says. “We invite these youth into One Community Health and provide them a safe place to receive free, high-quality dental and /or medical care for the day. Then if ongoing treatment or care is necessary, One Community Health is able to work with their families to establish affordable ways to make sure it happens. So this event is far more than free medical or dental care for a day. It’s about building sustainable health and wellness opportunities for life.”
About One Community Health
One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, federally qualified health center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River, Ore. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and, today, has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home. OCH currently provides medical, dental, behavioral and enabling services to over 11,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing proactive educational programs and support that sustain its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties. For more information, click here or visit: http://www.onecommunityhealth.org/.
One Community Health