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Highmark Foundation Awards $1.9 Million to Improve Access to Oral Health and Dental Care for Underserved Populations in Pennsylvania

Grants will fund access to oral health care programs for the uninsured, underinsured and those with special needs

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Health studies indicate that oral health is directly related to an individual's overall health. The Highmark Foundation recently awarded $1.9 million in grants to 21 oral health programs across its 49-county Pennsylvania service region to help improve access to oral health and dental care programs for low-income, rural and uninsured populations.

"Oral and dental diseases can have health and social impacts on the community," said Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation. "Inadequate oral health has been linked to more serious conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart and lung diseases. Poor oral health, especially tooth decay, can affect academic achievement in children and lead to missed days of school, result in missed employment opportunities for adults and affect overall quality of life for all individuals."

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), millions of American children and adults lack regular access to routine dental care. Access to care is a significant problem with low-income families being impacted the most.

"We know that the inability to pay for dental care, limited dental benefits and a lack of dentists available to serve low-income populations can prevent individuals from receiving routine dental care," said Cook. "Through a competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process, the Highmark Foundation invited safety-net providers, such as Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), FQHC look-alikes, community health clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, health departments and hospital-based clinics, to apply for grants that would help increase access to care and establish oral care programs that impact the communities served by Highmark."

The Highmark Foundation's goal, through the RFP, is to support new and replicable programs that deliver comprehensive population-based preventive oral health strategies for disparate populations.

The following organizations received grants from the Highmark Foundation to improve coordination and build capacity, expand services through regional collaboration or expand or improve existing dental equipment.

    Allegheny County

    Allegheny County Health Department                     $61,000
    Allegheny Valley School                                $40,000
    East Liberty Family Health Care Center                $147,500
    F.O.R. Sto-Rox                                         $56,500
    Passavant Memorial Homes Foundation                    $75,000
    University of Pittsburgh School of Dental
     Medicine                                             $200,000

    Crawford County

    Titusville Area Hospital                              $100,000
    Valley Dental Clinic                                   $57,000

    Cumberland County

    Sadler Health Center                                  $100,000

    Dauphin County

    Hamilton Health Center                                $100,000
    Harrisburg Area Community College Foundation           $50,000

    Greene County

    Cornerstone Care                                      $125,000

    Lancaster County

    Welsh Mountain Medical and Dental Center              $113,718

    Lehigh County

    Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network              $75,000
    Sacred Heart Hospital Foundation                       $56,566

    Mercer County

    Primary Health Network                                 $50,000

    Northampton County

    St. Luke's Hospital and Health Network                $100,000

    Schuylkill County

    Schuylkill Medical Center                             $115,000

    Warren County

    Warren General Hospital                                $55,000

    York County

    Family First Health                                    $50,000
    York Hospital Auxiliary                               $200,000

About the Highmark Foundation

The Highmark Foundation, created in 2000 as an affiliate of Highmark Inc., is a charitable organization and a private foundation that supports initiatives and programs aimed at improving community health. The foundation's mission is to improve the health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who reside in the Pennsylvania communities served by Highmark Inc. The foundation awards two types of grants: Highmark Healthy High 5, which includes a focus on the health and well-being of children in the areas of physical activity, nutrition, self-esteem, bullying and grieving; and its traditional four areas of general health focus, which include chronic disease, communicable disease, family health and service delivery systems. Where possible, the foundation looks to support evidence-based programs that impact multiple counties and work collaboratively to leverage additional funding to achieve replicable models. For more information about the Highmark Foundation, visit the "Community Involvement/Highmark Foundation" section of

SOURCE The Highmark Foundation
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