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New Telemedicine Project Will Provide Improved Access to Dental Care for Underserved Communities in California

Saturday, February 27, 2010 Dental News J E 4
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State Sen. Alex Padilla and Other Dignitaries Attend Demonstration of the Project

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Low-income residents in the San Fernando Valley will receive improved access to dental care, thanks to a new telemedicine project created by the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.

The groundbreaking, four-year pilot project will address the access-to-care crisis in California by connecting patients in need with critical dental services.  Known as the Virtual Dental Home, the project will give participating dentists a simple yet secure means to electronically review patient's dental records remotely with help from dental hygienists and dental assistants in underserved communities.  After the review of records, the dentist will be able to recommend a plan for addressing the patient's dental needs.

"This care-delivery model provides a much-needed community-based virtual dental home for the state's most vulnerable people," said the project's director, Dr. Paul Glassman, professor of dental practice at the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry.  "As a result, these patients in need will be able to conveniently access dental services in their own communities and remove some of the barriers to receiving care in a traditional dental office setting."

The California Dental Association Foundation, the California HealthCare Foundation, Verizon and MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), a nonprofit organization that provides services to the neediest residents of the San Fernando Valley, collaborated on the project.  The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon, awarded a $100,000 grant to support the first year of the Virtual Dental Home at MEND's Pacoima facility, the project's Southern California site, and at another site in Northern California.  

State Sen. Alex Padilla, who was among the officials on hand for the project's demonstration Friday (Feb. 26) at MEND, said, "This collaboration will improve access to dental care in the San Fernando Valley. I applaud the efforts of all who have committed to this partnership."

Tim McCallion, Verizon West region president, said, "The Virtual Dental Home is an example of how technology can innovate and improve the delivery of essential health care services in our society. Verizon is proud to partner with the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry, the California Dental Association Foundation, the California Healthcare Foundation and other supporters to bring this important health care project to the communities that need it most."

Marianne Haver Hill, MEND president and CEO, said, "This telemedicine technology will allow us to connect more of our clients to needed dental care, even if a dentist is not immediately available on-site.  As the largest poverty-relief agency in the San Fernando Valley, MEND looks forward to a continued partnership with Verizon, the California Dental Association Foundation and the University of the Pacific to better serve our patients."

The Verizon Foundation supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2009, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $67.5 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26.1 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.  Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 5 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

About MEND

In the early 1970's, MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) opened its doors in an effort to transform the lives of the neediest residents of the San Fernando Valley - poor children and their struggling families. Starting as a small group of volunteers working from a garage, MEND has grown primarily by word-of-mouth into one of the leanest operating non-profit organizations in existence. More than 91% of the support and donations received by MEND, now the largest poverty agency in the Valley, provides emergency food, clothing, medical, vision and dental care, job skills training English as a Second Language classes, youth activities, and a Christmas program. In 2009, MEND served as many as 31,000 individuals per month.

About the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry

The University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry's vision is to be a leading agent in the improvement of health by the advancement of oral health. Accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, academic programs include Doctor of Dental Surgery, International Dental Studies, Advanced Education in General Dentistry, Graduate Orthodontics and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. Hallmarks include innovators of the humanistic model of education; only U.S. dental school to offer a three-year DDS program; strong clinical and practice management program; emphasis on leadership and giving back to the profession and community. http://dental.pacific.edu

About California Dental Association Foundation

The CDA Foundation was formed as the philanthropic affiliate of the California Dental Association in 2001 with the mission to improve the oral health of Californians by supporting the dental health profession and its efforts to increase access to care for the state's most vulnerable people. The CDA Foundation works with experts in the dental profession, private business, academic institutions and government to produce programs that increase access to care, promote prevention education and intervention, advance health policy research and build a sustainable oral health workforce. www.cdafoundation.org.

About Verizon

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 91 million customers nationwide.  Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers innovative, seamless business solutions to customers around the world.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of approximately 222,900 and last year generated consolidated revenues of more than $107 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

About the California HealthCare Foundation

The California HealthCare Foundation is an independent philanthropy committed to improving the way health care is delivered and financed in California. By promoting innovations in care and broader access to information, our goal is to ensure that all Californians can get the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. www.chcf.org

SOURCE Verizon

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