Delta Dental – A Force for Good in Michigan

Oral health is not an isolated issue.

It’s connected to public health, education and economic development, and thus confounded by many underlying issues including poverty, unequal access to health care and educational opportunity.

Delta Dental’s mission is to improve oral health, but they are driven to make a greater impact by investing in initiatives that build healthy, smart, vibrant communities for all.

They partner with movers and shakers to enact change one community at a time, and in Michigan, Delta Dental and the Delta Dental Foundation are investing in mobility initiatives that take dental care and education directly to the patient.

Coming soon to Detroit – a self-driving, ADA-compliant shuttle that will take seniors and individuals with disabilities within identified target areas to dental appointments. A $206,000 grant from the Delta Dental Foundation to the City of Detroit will help to acquire and operate the self-driving shuttle, and the dental offices selected to participate in this pilot must accept Medicaid benefits. This grant is part of a larger pilot program aimed at increasing the mobility of seniors and people with disabilities in Detroit, and testing how self-driving vehicles can meet the needs of underserved residents and improve their quality of life. The project is expected to hit the road in 2024.

Meanwhile, the Motor City Kares initiative is bringing dental care directly to residents in the Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods – 41 percent of whom are low income or enrolled in Medicaid, according to American Community Survey data.

A $500,000 initiative from Delta Dental of Michigan, Ford Motor Company Fund and Kare Mobile, Motor City Kares provided a fully outfitted Ford Transit mobile dental clinic to two minority, Michigan-licensed dentists who would serve half their time in a two-year period to Corktown and Mexicantown.

“This campaign represents efficiency, opportunity and innovation,” said Margaret Trimer, Delta Dental of Michigan vice president of strategic partnerships. “We’ve been able to partner with some powerful organizations – a nonprofit, a corporate customer and an entrepreneur – to make this happen.”

The mobile units can serve an average of eight patients a day. Units are equipped with digital X-rays, intraoral cameras, teledentistry capabilities and more that allow these businesses to provide preventive dental care, emergency procedures and dental hygiene education to insured, uninsured and underinsured patients alike.

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