Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CUCDM) hosted the official launch of NDA-HEALTH NOW-New York (National Dental Association- Health Equity, Access, Literacy, Technology and Hope. National Outreach on Wheels) on April 25, 2014 at Public School 189 in Washington Heights. It included a children’s oral health education program, reception and program for invited guests and dental student volunteers, and the first NDA-HEALTH NOW-New York Advisory Committee meeting. The extended launch included outreach programs to 600 school children in three public schools in Upper Manhattan which will conclude in late May. The partnership is the first of its kind between Columbia University and the National Dental Association. whose mission is to promote oral health equity among people of color by harnessing the collective power of its members, advocating for and mentoring dental students of color, and raising the profile of the profession in local communities.
On April 25th, representatives from the NDA along with faculty and students from the dental school, as well as community group leaders, were on hand to interact with students and answer their questions. Program participants included, Dr. Christian Stohler, Dean of CUCDM, Dr. Hazel Harper, National NDA-HEALTH NOW Director, Dr. Dennis Mitchell, Associate Dean and Local Project Director for NDA-HEALTH NOW-New York, as well as two elected officials, U.S. Congressman Charles B. Rangel and New York State Sen. Adriano Espaillat. Third graders received dental health education through videos, oral hygiene demonstrations and interactive sessions with Columbia’s dental students. The videos and product donations were compliments of Colgate and Crest Oral-B. NDA-HEALTH NOW national partners are: The Links, Incorporated, Henry Schein Cares, and Oral Health America. The last of the three part project launch will be held on May 30 with a visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem for Kindergarten through fifth graders.
NDA HEALTH NOW-New York is part of a national grassroots program to improve oral health in vulnerable populations. NDA-HEALTH NOW will expand the areas of care to include, in addition to children, adults and senior citizens; and in addition to dental care, medical and vision care. The program seeks to leverage the time and efforts of dental, medical and vision care practitioners so that maximum benefit is received by patients in underserved and vulnerable communities. The focus is on Total Health and prevention by inter-professional teams. Plans include acquiring specially designed mixed-use mobile health units operating in selected areas. NDA-HEALTH NOW currently has programs in Chicago and Dallas; and is scheduled to launch programs in New Orleans in July, 2014, and San Francisco/Oakland/Sacramento in 2015.
Both the NDA, which celebrated its Centennial Anniversary in 2013, and the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016, have long histories of community outreach. Columbia’s efforts are based in the Community DentCare program, which was started in 1996 as a network of partnerships and collaborations with neighborhood schools and community health clinics to provide Northern Manhattan’s low-income, underserved, and uninsured residents with access to dental care. The program was launched after a Washington Heights school principal reached out to the College of Dental Medicine to seek dental care for the many children at her school who were unable to attend class because of toothaches.
NDA members constitute a massive network of providers and volunteers across America who for decades have been the backbone of programs that strive to reach millions of underserved children and their families who do not have access to health care . The NDA-HEALTH NOW-New York Advisory Committee will continue to seek members and community partners who will work together to identify ways to increase outreach for underserved communities throughout metro New York.