Several South Florida dental clinics, oral health programs and dental school graduates were recipients of the more than $200,000 in Florida-based grants this past year from Delta Dental Insurance Company, according to the company’s 2013-14 community benefits report released recently.
Twenty-two dental clinics in rural and underserved areas received a total of $185,000 from the company’s Delta Dental Community Care Foundation in 2013, including Miami Children’s Hospital, which received a $10,000 grant for the second year in a row. An additional $10,000 was awarded earlier this year to the first-ever Florida Mission of Mercy, which provided free dental treatment to the region’s underserved and low-income population.
“As a leader in the dental benefits industry, we know the importance of stepping into the community to help improve access to dental care as well as help show people the importance of oral health,” said John Yamamoto, DDS, vice president of Professional Services for Delta Dental Insurance Company and its affiliates. “Part of ‘improving access’ includes directly helping clinics and organizations provide dental care to many in need who would otherwise go without, due to financial barriers.”
Community services plays an important role for the company.
Delta Dental, which in 2013 was awarded the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s Hispanic Leadership Award in the President’s Distinguished Community Service category, is a frequent participant in school education initiatives, health fairs and community events. Outreach in 2013 expanded to more than 10,000 people, including direct care and education, according to the company’s report.
For several years, Delta Dental’s Hispanic outreach program has helped bring dental education to the community and to schools in Florida via “Ratoncito Pérez,” the legendary Hispanic counterpart of the Tooth Fairy. Since the 2012-13 school year, Ratoncito Pérez has visited 35 elementary schools, reaching nearly 4,800 pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students.
Each year, Delta Dental awards grants of $2,500 each to South Florida dental school graduates who show outstanding leadership abilities. In addition, Delta Dental this past year set up a dentist “shadowing program” for 14 pre-dental students at Florida International University to give them the opportunity to team up with practicing professionals.
“Investing in oral health also means investing in the future of dentistry — our future dentists,” said Dr. Yamamoto. “We believe it’s important to help create partnerships and opportunities for professionals, as it ultimately helps improve oral health for our communities.”
Delta Dental Insurance Company (deltadentalins.com) provides dental coverage to 4 million people in nine states, including nearly 900,000 in Florida. The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation (ddccf.com) provides grants to nonprofit community clinics and healthcare programs, striving to improve oral health for underserved children and adults through treatment and education. It is the philanthropic branch of Delta Dental Insurance Company and its affiliated companies.