An El Dorado family’s $3 million donation to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital has expanded a dental outreach program focused on Union County to improve children’s dental health.
The series of programs and partnerships, many built around the donation by the Bob Brown family, have been to built and have one goal: “Creating a healthier tomorrow for our children through oral health outreach and education.”
Brown gave the largest single commitment to dental outreach programs at ACH to date.
“I’m honored to continue this tradition by partnering with Arkansas Children’s to promote a healthier future for the more than 10,000 children who live in our county,” he said.
He gave this donation in honor of Joyce B. Brown, his late wife, who was also very involved in the community.
Fred Scarborough, the president of the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation said, “The Brown Family’s leadership and generosity are remarkable and will help create a healthier future for children in Arkansas.”
The mobile truck, which parks at schools in Union County, offers cleanings, crowns, cavity fillings, root canals and many more operations.
“With the generosity of the Brown family, the partnership of local school districts, school-based health centers, Medical Center of South Arkansas and Dr. Taylor Everett, we established a three point oral health plan that provides, preventative dental sealant, a mobile dental clinic, and a home visiting program that will be available to every newborn baby’s family in Union County,” said Anna Strong, executive director of Child Advocacy and Public Health at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Oral health is something many people don’t pay attention to until it’s too late and very expensive, Strong said.
Cavities are one of the top reasons why students miss school. The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools warns that 51 million school hours are lost each year due to a dental-related illness.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC), only 57.6 percent of people 18 and older in Arkansas went to the dentist or a dental clinic in 2016. The CDC also released statistics about the 18.6 percent of children in the United States that need dental care. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) stated that Type 2 diabetes, asthma and obesity are all fairly common childhood conditions, but tooth decay tops them all as the most prevalent.
“This clinic on wheels helps provide dental care of all school-age students,” said Debbie McAdams, the El Dorado School District administrator of School Based Health. “In the past few months, nearly 80 children have had almost 200 visits in the van. Nearly every elementary school in the county has offered students preventive care through the sealant program … In the first week of operation, we served a child that had more than 15 cavities.”
Another program benefiting the Union County Community through this donation is the home visit program for newborns.
Alison Stone, director of Women’s Health at the Medical Center of South Arkansas, said, “We can serve any family, regardless of their income. These home visits are completed my our registered nurses. New parents get health checks in their homes in addition to infant resources, such as, infant toothbrushes, community connections, social supports, and reassurance. It’s one of the first ways to help educate parents on things like oral health and safe sleeping.”
The Brown family’s generosity was recognized in a ceremony on Saturday at El Dorado High School.
Alex Pepper is a sophomore at El Dorado High School and a member of the EHS Hi-Gusher newspaper staff. She can be contacted at email@example.com.