DETROIT, April 29, 2022 — Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist joined representatives from Delta Dental of Michigan, My Community Dental Centers (MCDC), Ford Motor Company Fund and Kare Mobile to introduce a mobile dental clinic that will bring more smiles to Greater Detroit communities. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today.
Access to dental care is a challenge for many individuals in Detroit. Within the Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods, reliable transportation is one of the most common barriers and only heightened for those on Medicaid or with low incomes, which about 41 percent of the region's population according to American Community Survey data.
Kare Mobile, Ford Fund and Delta Dental have been working diligently to alleviate this issue since 2019 through the $500,000 Motor City Kares initiative. The campaign provides a fully outfitted Ford Transit van to two minority dental professionals looking to make a difference in the community.
It's an issue Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist holds close. As the lead on the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities, he has been working to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color for the past two years. Though, this effort extends far beyond the pandemic.
Friday's event was hosted by Corktown Health and featured MCDC's CEO Dr. Deborah Brown who was presented with the first of the two vans that will begin serving patients this spring. The second van will be presented to registered dental hygienist and business owner Deanna Alexander later this year.
MCDC is a statewide network of safety net dental centers, dedicated to expanding access to care for the underserved. The addition of a mobile dental unit to MCDC's current service is a critical first step and reinforces the importance of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's proposal to invest $247 million in the Medicaid dental services.
"The creative collaboration and approach to care will bring desperately needed services to these deserving communities. This bold and long-overdue investment is poised to give us a unique opportunity to close a glaring gap and improve dental care for our Detroit community," Dr. Brown said. "It will both reduce oral health disparities and improve the overall health and socioeconomic well-being of low-income adults and families."
The van is equipped with a digital X-ray machine, intraoral cameras and teledentistry capabilities allowing for comprehensive care and patient education regardless of a patient's insurance status. At full capacity, the mobile unit can care for an average of eight patients a day.
Best of all, there won't be hurdles to the dental office, as the van will be meeting patients where they already are. A back-office suite of services delivered through the Kare Mobile app provides automatic calling and appointment reminders among many other technological capabilities.
"As a dental provider I have witnessed first-hand how mobile dentistry has made treatment accessible for patients. It becomes more than service, it's about building trust," said Dr. Kwane Watson, Kare Mobile CEO. "I have witnessed patients gain more confidence if they are being treated in a place or location where they feel comfortable and secure."
Just as much as comfort and trust play a role in this effort, so does mobility.
"Far too many people lack access to the most basic services and care because they do not have access to transportation," said Joe Provenzano, mobility director for Ford Motor Company Fund. "We are excited to be a partner in expanding access to dental care through the power of mobility and hope this innovative business model can be scaled to reach even more residents and families here in Detroit and beyond."
Both vans will spend at least half their time serving residents in Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods. After successfully operating for two years and building a stable practice with administrative support from the Motor City Kares initiative, the business and mobile clinic is theirs to keep and operate independently.
Delta Dental purchased the Ford Transits from Avis Ford, a local minority-owned dealership while Ford Fund provided the equipment to upfit the vans. Kare Mobile performed the vehicle upgrades, produced operating licenses and provided management and administrative support.
"This campaign represents efficiency, opportunity and innovation. And best of all it's built from partnerships. We've been able to partner with some powerful organizations—a nonprofit, a corporate customer and an entrepreneur—to make this happen," said Margaret Trimer, Delta Dental vice president of strategic partnerships.
For more information on this effort, visit mydental.org/mobilecare.
About My Community Dental Centers
Established in 2006, My Community Dental Centers Inc. operates 34 dental centers throughout Michigan, with nearly 90,000 unduplicated patients served in 2021, MCDC focuses on quality care that is customized for each patient and offered in a patient-centered atmosphere with exceptional care. Visit www.mydental.org.
About Kare Mobile
Three years ago, Kare started as a mobile app available for all but focused on servicing those who experience difficulties obtaining access to dental care. The app connects a patient to a dentist based on location, availability, insurance, and the procedure the patient wishes to have done. In 2018, we expanded our business to provide mobile dental services to help meet the needs of individuals who are unable to receive dental care due to scheduling and financial limitations. We are dedicated to serving patients and overcoming their barriers to care by coming directly to them! For more information, visit www.kare.mobi.
About Ford Motor Company Fund
As the automaker's philanthropic arm, Ford Motor Company Fund has been supporting local communities for more than 70 years. Working with nonprofit organizations, community partners and across the Ford network in the U.S. and in 43 countries, Ford Fund provides resources and opportunities that advance racial equity and empower people to reach their highest potential. Since 1949, Ford and Ford Fund have invested more than $2.2 billion in initiatives that ensure basic needs are met, provide access to essential services, offer tools to build new skillsets and open pathways to high quality jobs. For more information, visit www.fordfund.org or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
About Delta Dental of Michigan
Delta Dental of Michigan began operations in 1957, and today with its affiliates, is one of the largest dental plan administrators in the country. Delta Dental companies nationwide comprise the Delta Dental Plans Association, which provides coverage to more than 80 million Americans and operates two of the nation's largest networks of participating dentists. In addition to providing superior dental benefits, Delta Dental of Michigan is committed to building brighter futures for the people of our great state by investing in initiatives that support healthy, smart, vibrant communities for all. Learn more at www.deltadentalmi.com.