Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation's Community Grants Focus

Posted on June 6, 2019 in In the Community

dr_lubas and patientOur Community Grants Program offers support to organizations that provide oral health care and/or education to children in Illinois. Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation has awarded nearly $1 million over the past six years to Illinois organizations committed to improving children’s oral health.

In 2018, we awarded more than $180,000 to 21 nonprofit and community organizations with programs and services that improve children’s oral health in Illinois. One recipient was Advocate Children’s Hospital (ACH). We awarded ACH a $10,000 grant to expand their pediatric dental clinic in Oak Lawn, Illinois. As the largest network provider of pediatric services in Illinois, ACH’s dental clinic’s services include preventive and restorative dental care, including preventive, perioperative and follow-up dental care.

A high percentage of children treated at the dental clinic are those with special health care needs, including those with medically-complex conditions, as well as uninsured children and children covered by Medicaid. Dental care is individualized per patient and includes the collaboration with their sub-specialty physicians (e.g. oncologists, pulmonologists and cardiologists) to best care for the child’s overall health. Families and caregivers are educated in how to provide necessary daily oral health care for their child, improving their quality of life.

ACH’s pediatric dentist and Delta Dental network dentist, Dr. Jan Lubas has long been involved in mission work to address oral health needs at home and abroad, including multiple trips to war-torn Bosnia where she treated many adults and children with special health care needs. Following one such trip, she advocated to transport a patient to ACH for specialized surgical care, sparking the longstanding partnership to serve children on campus. Now, through her dental clinic in the community and at the hospital campus, she delivers critically-needed oral health services and coordinates treatment with multi-specialty providers to benefit a caseload of 340 total patients.

Jamie Ruzich, pediatric dental surgery assistant and program coordinator, facilitates operations within the dental clinic. She provides administrative and clinical support, including scheduling, follow-up care, patient education and care coordination with medical subspecialties. She works closely with both the child and their family/caregivers. Says Ms. Ruzich, “Many of the families struggle to balance the whole health needs of the child, putting medical issues first. Dental care is an afterthought for some. Others are simply unable to overcome significant limitations to access proper dental care in the community. By collaborating with the patient’s multi-specialty medical team, we can safely perform dental procedures, in surgery as well as outpatient clinics.”

Truly a coordinated dental care team, this clinic is improving the health and oral health of their pediatric patients and increasing their quality of life. Learn more about Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation’s Community Grants Program and how to apply.