In an effort to reach more patients, Christ Community Health Services is launching its own mobile dental van.
The vehicle will be used to transport equipment to the 70 schools in Shelby County where Christ Community provides dental services to more than 4,000 children through its outreach program. That number includes 60 Shelby County Schools that have Head Start programs.
But Jeffrey Amstutz, dental director for Christ Community, said the van could also allow the organization to reach more adults, including members of the homeless population or people who have just been released from prison. Christ Community currently has a medical services van that is on the road three or four days a week, visiting patients.
“Those are all things we’re continuing to explore,” Amstutz said. “We’d easily be able to see 30 to 40 patients every day if it got going.”
The van was donated to Christ Community by Ford Motor Company and an anonymous donor. It is expected to be on the road before the end of September.
According to Amstutz, dental service is the most prominent health care need in Memphis. Christ Community has grown its dental services from three sites with 24 chairs to five sites with 39 chairs. It currently serves 15,000 dental patients around the city, and another five chairs are expected to be added by November.
In addition to the growth, Christ Community’s dental program has been recognized as a 2016 Center of Excellence by Dental Quest, a national organization. The designation is based on excellence in leadership, efficiency and high quality patient care. The designation also recognized Christ Community’s Dental Residency Plus Program, a three-year old program that brings promising dental residents to Memphis for three years. Students can work to retire their dental school debt and commit to treat underserved patients.
“The idea is they’ll stay in Memphis or in other areas that need more dental care,” he said. “In doing that, we can staff all of our growth for the foreseeable future.”
While the designation won’t bring any additional direct funding to Christ Community, Amstutz said it shows they are supporting their mission of quality care for lesser served populations.
“We have very little turnover in our staff,” he said “Other avenues are great, but the underserved need help, too.”