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A “dental divide” is now closed

Article prompts new dental service 


An article in Kentucky Living called “The Dental Divide” sparked a much-needed dental health service for Bracken County Schools’ new school-based health center.

“I was working on a grant with the Bracken County Health Department and Bracken County Schools to establish a school-based health clinic,” says Anna Cummins, a consumer-member of Blue Grass Energy. “We wanted to offer dental services as well as medical services, but we were having trouble attracting dental providers.” 

Cummins read the Kentucky Living article, which notes the outreach programs of University of Louisville School of Dentistry and University of Kentucky (UK) College of Dentistry. “Because of your article I decided it was worth a shot to contact UK because of our close proximity to Lexington. I wanted to see if they would be interested in being our partner in providing dental services,” says Cummins, who is a health department consultant. 

They were, and a partnership was forged that included UK, the county school system, health department and fiscal court, along with the Interact for Health foundation, which provided a $750,000 grant for dental equipment and renovation of the School-Based Health Center’s building, which is located in the school district’s former Family Resource Center office. The foundation’s mission is to improve health across the greater Cincinnati and northern Kentucky area. Primary Plus also contributed to the project, became a partner and is providing most of the medical and dental care, Cummins says. 

The former Family Resource Center in Brooksville during renovation for the new Bracken County School-Based Health Center, which opens this month. Photo: Anna Cummins

Opening this month, the Bracken County School-Based Health Center will include medical services as well as four dental chairs. It will serve the community as well as students in the Bracken County and Augusta Independent school districts. Portable dental equipment also will be used to serve people in Robertson and Pendleton counties. 

“We’ve been working on this since 2019, before COVID-19,” Cummins says. “COVID brought everything dealing with health care to a standstill. It has taken several months to get this project to the finish line, but this is such a need in our schools and community. I’m so pleased we got it done.” 

Cummins says the partnership eventually hopes to also provide mental health services. For now, students and community members alike will have medical and dental services right in their own community.

DEBRA GIBSON ISAACS writes on cooperative employees giving back to their communities.

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