Youth in need of a dental checkup can smile because the Delta Dental Mobile will be back in Yankton safely fighting plaque this spring.
Sponsored by United Way of Greater Yankton, Delta Dental’s “Molar 1” truck was set to be in Yankton last year for what would have been its 12th year, when uncertainties regarding the novel coronavirus provoked a national shutdown. The mobile dental program was suspended for several months until COVID safety protocols could be devised and implemented over the summer.
This year, one of Delta Dental’s mobile clinics is again set to be in Yankton March 1-5 in the parking lot at United Way’s Non-Profit Center, 610 W. 23rd St. The van is equipped to provide preventative, diagnostic and restorative care to South Dakota’s youth ages 0-21 at no cost. Youth are eligible if they have not seen an area dentist in two years or live more than 85 miles from the nearest dentist.
“There are no pre-qualifications; however, you must live in South Dakota to participate,” Lauren Hanson, executive director of United Way of Greater Yankton, told the Press & Dakotan. “There is just a registration form that asks some demographic questions is required.”
Registration forms must be submitted to Yankton’s United Way before booking an appointment. Forms are due at United Way’s Non-Profit Center in Yankton by Feb. 19.
Also, forms are available by request in languages other than English, Hanson said.
“If language is a barrier, we want to eliminate that barrier by providing as much assistance as we can,” she said. “We encourage people to reach out to us and we can do our best with whatever needs they have.”
In light of the COVID situation, Delta Dental has implemented some additional safety protocols, she said.
“The health and safety of their patients and staff is really their highest priority and is ours at United Way as well,” Hanson said. “So they’ve been doing some new training on new protocols for their staff. At United Way, masks are required upon entry into our building and our offices. We’ll have social-distancing guidelines marked as well.”
In addition to sponsoring the truck through its Community Impact Fund, United Way will act as a site partner to manage participants before they board the van, she said.
“Participants will come into the United Way Nonprofit Center and check in,” Hanson said. “We will just verify that they arrived at the right time for their appointment, and that we have their proper paperwork.”
The United Way lobby will serve as a waiting area for participants receiving dental services. Mobile unit staff retrieve participants and accompany them to the van when it’s time for their appointment, she said.
“The first time they come in is the initial screening,” Hanson said. “If they need to come back throughout the week for restorative care or preventative care, Delta Dental takes care of the management of those appointments.”
Added Delta Dental COVID safety measures include:
• Increased screening of patients and staff: Every day, staff and patients will be screened for symptoms of illness; staff will contact parents to pre-screen patients with questions about their current health status; every patient’s temperature will be taken when arriving for an appointment; and any patient with a temperature over 100.3 will not be seen.
• Adjusted clinical procedures: Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients; aerosol-generating dental procedures will be limited as much as possible.
• Personal protective equipment (PPE): Staff is receiving specialized PPE training and equipment in addition to their regular PPE.
• Increased air filtration: Additional UV filters have been installed on Molar 1 and Molar 2; air purifiers will run continuously throughout the day.
“The last time the Delta Dental Mobile was here, they served 37 area youth and provided preventative and restorative dental care valued at $30,157,” Kiersten Hansen, United Way program coordinator, told the Press & Dakotan. “The cost to bring the program to Yankton is $2,500. That’s a measure of how the contributions of United Way of Greater Yankton serve the community.”
According the Hansen, the Delta Dental mobile program has seen over 400 Yankton area youth and provided over $240,000 in dental care since 2010. On average, 60% of the children that enter the Delta Dental mobile program in Yankton come from households with income levels below $30,000 a year; on average 62% of the children’s families have no dental insurance; and most of the individuals seen are children in the three to 12-year-old age range.
“Care provided through the mobile program is at no cost to the family and no insurance is necessary,” Hansen said. “We just really encourage, if you don’t have access or are unable to afford dental care, that you get in touch with us and we can get you ready for the bus.”
The partnership with Delta Dental over the years has been tremendous, Hanson said.
“Their passion to help kids, especially those least able to access or afford dental care, is really why we do this,” she said. “That passion and our mission to change lives and improve our communities has equated to a successful partnership.”
Registration forms can be obtained at Yankton Public Schools, Boys & Girls Club of Yankton, Contact Center, Yankton WIC Office, The Clothing Closet and United Way of Greater Yankton or online at www.yanktonunitedway.org/dental.
Forms are available in other languages than English. For more information, contact United Way in Yankton.
Completed registration forms should be returned to United Way of Greater Yankton at 610 W. 23rd Street, Suite 11, Yankton by Friday, Feb. 19. Contact United Way of Greater Yankton at 605-665-6766 or visit www.yanktonunitedway.org/dental for more information.