Improving The Oral Health Care Capacity Of Federally Qualified Health Centers
Author: James J. Crall, Nadereh Pourat, Moira Inkelas, Colleen Lampron, Richard Scoville
Despite efforts that increased dental visits at federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) by 65 percent between 2007 and 2014, only 21 percent of FQHC patients received dental services in 2015—not altogether surprising, given that most such facilities do not offer dental services on site. Many of these facilities are part of multisite organizations that offer dental services at other locations; however, sites with co-located dental and medical services often serve only a fraction of their primary care patients. This article describes an initiative, funded by First 5 LA and led by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), designed to improve access to and quality of oral health care for young children at twenty Los Angeles County FQHCs with co-located medical and dental services. The UCLA–First 5 LA Oral Health Program supported infrastructure enhancements, technical assistance, clinical training, quality improvement, health education for parents and caregivers, and related policy analyses. Findings demonstrate a twofold increase in diagnostic and treatment services capacity for young children and a threefold increase in preventive services capacity after two years. Investments in infrastructure, plus support for training and quality improvement focused on medical and dental integration, were crucial to these capacity increases.