Almanac Holiday Fund: Filling critical gap in dental care | December 7, 2016 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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Community - December 7, 2016

Almanac Holiday Fund: Filling critical gap in dental care

Gifts to the Holiday Fund benefit the Ravenswood Family Health Center and nine other local community-service organizations.

Story by Annie Wu, health program planner at Ravenswood Family Health Center.

Ravenswood Family Health Center offers dental services through our dedicated facility at Ravenswood Family Dentistry (RFD), located at 1807 Bay Road in East Palo Alto. Established in 2010, RFD delivers full-service dental care to South San Mateo County residents.

A needs assessment was conducted for the service area of East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and North Fair Oaks before opening RFD. At that time, low-income residents either sought care elsewhere or went without dental care and had their teeth pulled when pain and dental disease became too severe.

There were also only six small practices in all of San Mateo County that accepted public dental insurance, and none of those practices offered general anesthesia surgery.

It would have taken 27 full-time dentists to meet this great need. RFD's opening in East Palo Alto filled a critical gap in service with capacity to serve up to 6,500 people.

RFD opened its doors with four pediatric chairs, five adult chairs, and a surgical suite. In our first year of operation, RFD served more than 2,000 members of our community.

Today, RFD has 14 fully equipped dental operatories. Our state-of-the-art facility is equipped with the latest technology, including an electronic dental record system and digital radiography.

We provide a full range of preventive and restorative care and treatment under sedation for children, adults and pregnant women. We welcome children and adults with special needs who are referred to RFD from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

We developed special services and programs to accommodate our homeless patients in the community who require same-day dental care and other innovative measures to overcome barriers to access.

RFD has received national recognition for our work serving low-income and special-needs populations. Recently, our chief dental officer, Dr. Yogita Butani Thakur, and her dental team were awarded the John Rossetti Center of Excellence Award, sponsored by the DentaQuest Institute's Safety Net Solutions program.

Our work is far from over. We will need to increase our capacity to meet rising demands for oral health care.

Over the next two years we are working to expand our dental clinic. We plan to add nine dental chairs by December 2018, which will allow us to provide oral health care to an additional 3,500 low-income patients.

To achieve our goal, we need to raise another $1 million before July 2017. Nevertheless, RFD continues to transform, fueled by a resilience that comes from the dedication of our staff team, and the unwavering support of our patients, partners and donors.

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