Project Summary

The mission of Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas (MHM) is to improve the health those least served in the 72 county region of South Texas. The organization carries out its mission by providing access to primary care services, developing and delivering appropriate health care education, and building partnerships within communities. Recognizing that dental decay is the largest single disease affecting children, and that high-risk populations (racial and ethnic minorities, rural residents and lower socioeconomic groups) experience disproportionate amounts of disease, a school based-dental health program represents an ideal way to provide care to children.

Through the Caring for Kids initiative, the Methodist Health Care Ministries will integrate a comprehensive school-based oral program into two of its five school-based health centers located in rural underserved communities. The comprehensive model will focus on the prevention, treatment and education needs of children as they relate to oral health. The prevention component includes sealants, individualized fluoride treatments, mouth guard fabrication for sports, oral hygiene instruction, nutrition, tobacco use and early intervention. The treatment component includes essential services such as emergency, diagnostic, preventive and restorative care. A referral mechanism will be established for children requiring specialty care. Education of all elementary children is essential to the success of such a program and will be incorporated in the children’s regular curriculum by working with teachers, parents and oral health professionals.

The program is a collaborative partnership between the Methodist Healthcare Ministries, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, the Texas Department of Health, community dental clinics, the Marion Independent School District and the East Central Independent School District.

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Caring for Kids is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered by The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, a nonpartisan policy and program center based at The George Washington University.