Release Date: September 12, 2005
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An innovative program that provides social services along with dental care to older adults treated in the dental clinics of the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has received the 2005 Geriatric Oral Health Care Award from the American Dental Association.
The CARES program, which stands for counseling, advocacy, referral, education and service, was established in 2001 with the aid of a $33,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.
The award winner is determined through a national competition. The winner receives a $2,500 check and a commemorative plaque. The Geriatric Oral Health Care Award recognizes programs that have improved the health of older adults through innovative community outreach activities.
Robert Lauf, chair of the ADA Council on Access, Prevention and Interprofessional Relations, said the award "recognizes the significant commitment of the CARES Program to addressing barriers preventing older adults from receiving oral health care."
Operating in conjunction with UB's School of Social Work, the CARES program interviews older patients treated at UB's dental clinics to determine if they need counseling or help with housing, medical care, transportation, financial aid or other services that could improve their health and quality of life. Since its inception, CARES has provided help to 800 people.
CARES also exposes dental and social work students to health needs of the elderly and prepares them to deal with these issues in their own practices.
The program has established collaborative arrangements with community agencies that serve the elderly, such as the Erie County Department of Senior Services and Meals on Wheels, to insure that clinic patients have access to all available services.
More than 3,000 Western New York residents over age 65 who otherwise would not have access to affordable dental care are treated each year in UB dental clinics.
Kim Zittel-Palamara, M.S.W., Ph.D., UB clinical assistant professor of restorative dentistry, and James Wysocki, M.S.W., social worker in the dental school, direct the CARES program.
Members of the advisory board of the program are Elaine Davis, Ph.D., associate dean for student affairs of the UB dental school; Jude Fabiano, D.D.S., director of UB's Advanced Education in General Dentistry program; Louis Goldberg, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor of oral diagnostic sciences and former dean of the UB dental school; Meghan Perinpanayagam, M.P.A., assistant to the chair of the Department of Pediatric and Community Dentistry, and Deborah Waldrop, M.S.W., Ph.D., UB assistant professor of social work and oral diagnostic sciences.
The Geriatric Oral Health Care Award is supported by the Pfizer Consumer Healthcare Group.