UB's Dental and Social Work Schools Receive Community Foundation Grant for Innovative Initiative

Release Date: April 3, 2001 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A $33,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo to UB's School of Social Work and its School of Dental Medicine will support a pilot project designed to reach out to older adults who are patients in UB's dental clinics and who may need social services.

Gail Johnstone, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, said the foundation is pleased to provide the Impact Grant, which "will assist the university's efforts to address the social and health problems of the low-income elderly patients currently served by the dental clinics."

Johnstone added: "We applaud the university's commitment to identify and serve the needs of the elder community."

Deborah Waldrop, assistant professor in the School of Social Work and co-director of the project said, "We believe this initiative, which integrates both services and education between the professions of social work and dentistry, is the first of its kind. The pilot program will serve as a model for collaborative efforts between other UB schools and also has the potential for becoming a national model."

Louis J. Goldberg, professor in the School of Dental Medicine and co-director of the project, praised the foundation's willingness to support "an innovative public-service program that should prove to be an exciting opportunity for UB's students who will benefit both from the hands-on experience and the cross-disciplinary approach."

Currently, more than 3,000 Western New York residents over age 65 who would not otherwise have access to affordable dental care are treated each year in the UB dental clinics. The partnership program will assist these thousands of high-risk older adults by providing referrals and counseling, while facilitating training and learning for UB dental and social-work students.

Dental patients will be surveyed to determine what services and information they would find most beneficial. Collaborative arrangements will be made with community agencies that serve the elderly, such as the Erie County Department of Senior Services and Meals on Wheels, to ensure that clinic patients have access to all available services.

In the second phase, the students will integrate health and wellness screening into routine dental-clinic visits to identify patients' needs and begin problem-solving.

Waldrop said that increasingly health care professionals are being taught to assess the complex overlap between overall health and social issues. Patients see oral-health-care professionals for specific complaints, but may be dealing simultaneously with complicated problems related to health and aging that impede their treatment. Clinic patients often develop personal relationships with oral-health professionals and the value of offering additional services in the context of this relationship became the impetus for this innovative program.

The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, one of the oldest community foundations in the nation, is dedicated to improving life in Western New York by supporting charitable programs that serve the region. Recent foundation grants to UB have supported a neighborhood assets/ market building project for the University Community Initiative, the microarray scanner for the Center for Drug Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics and ISDN technology for WBFO 88.7 FM, the National Public Radio affiliate operated by UB.

The grant is part of UB's $250 million campaign, the largest ever conducted by a public university in New York and New England. Although it's the fifth major fund-raising campaign conducted by UB, it's the first national/international campaign, the first university-wide campaign and the first to be alumni-driven with campaign volunteer leaders from all over the country. Funds raised will be used to enrich academic programs, support students ranging from undergraduates to post-doctoral students and to enhance university life.

For information on how you can support the University at Buffalo, go to http://www.buffalo.edu/giving.