BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo School of Dental
Medicine has received a U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services grant for $500,000 to replace its 14-year-old Mobile
Dental Unit (MDU) -- the van that gives the children of Chautauqua
County access to oral care.
The grant is intended to support and invest in school-based,
health-center capital programs like the UB MDU. The UB dental van,
and the services it provides, is one of 278 school-based programs
across the country to be awarded funds to help clinics expand and
provide more health care services to the underserved nationwide
through the Affordable Care Act.
Every year for the last 14 years, the UB School of Dental
Medicine has served the oral health needs of Chautauqua County's
children through its school-based mobile dental van, which is
staffed by three UB pediatric dentists, a dental hygienist and a
With the grant, the UB dental school will purchase a larger,
state-of-the-art MDU equipped with three to four dental chairs to
replace its current two-chair van. This will double the MDU's
capacity to treat patients and enable the UB dental school to
provide more help to families that have limited access to dental
UB's MDU dental staff has provided care during 38,000 patient
visits since 1997.
The grant's principal investigator Joseph Bernat, DDS, UB
associate dean and chair of pediatric and community dentistry, said
oral health is important to the physical well being of children.
UB's MDU provides much needed services.
"We know that dental problems are health problems that affect
children's performance in the classroom. Because of this grant, we
will be able to continue to provide dental care to kids in need,
which will improve their overall health and quality of life," said
The new MDU van will be about 45 feet long and will have
approximately 600 square feet of clinical space specific to
dentistry, including a sterilization center, a patient
waiting/intake/education area and a panoramic x-ray facility.
The dental operatories or procedure areas will be equipped with
the computer hardware to access electronic oral health records
resulting in improvements in security, compliance, quality and
efficiency of care.
The van will also feature both a stair entry and powered chair
lift, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It
will take about one year to design and build the van to the
James Harris, the UB dental school's chief financial officer,
said the grant process was very competitive. With the new MDU's
increased capacity, he noted, the dental school will be able to see
more children in Chautauqua County and possibly add pilot programs
in other counties.
"We have been working with the Westminster Foundation on a
possible partnership to bring dental care to their Promise
Neighborhoods in Buffalo," Harris said. "The Westminster Foundation
is a local group of business, education and community experts,
funded by M&T Bank, dedicated to improve education and end
The dental school will continue to seek operational funding for
administrative costs and staffing to operate the MDU, he added.
Michael Glick, DMD, dean and professor in the UB School of
Dental Medicine, said the grant complements the dental school's
pursuit of excellence in all its endeavors.
"This grant directly supports the school's mission to improve
quality of life by leading innovation in oral health education,
research and service," Glick said. "The new MDU will enable us to
better train the next generation of health care providers while
increasing awareness of the impact oral health has on a person's
overall well being. We're humbled to play a role in improving the
quality of life throughout the Western New York community."
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.