CDA Cares has statewide impact as Pomona clinic nears

CDA and the CDA Foundation are gearing up for the second CDA Cares clinic to be held in Southern California. CDA Cares Pomona will take place Nov. 21-22 at the Pomona Fairplex, and volunteers are urged to get involved.

“We’re excited to provide services again in Southern California because we want to help as many people as we can across the state and help policymakers understand the tremendous unmet dental needs,” said CDA Foundation Chair Don Rollofson, DMD.

In addition to providing care at no charge to approximately 2,000 patients at each clinic, CDA Cares aims to educate the public, media and policymakers about the importance of good oral health and the need to find long-term solutions, such as an adequately funded dental safety net.

Since the CDA Foundation started the clinics in 2012, volunteers have provided $7.5 million in care to 10,040 patients. Lawmakers have seen the impact and taken action. This year, the state partially restored Adult Denti-Cal benefits and approved the hiring of a state dental director to address oral health care in California — something CDA strongly advocated for during the past several years.

“This is why we like to have local legislators tour the clinics and see firsthand what’s going on in their districts and understand the barriers many of their constituents face when trying to access dental care,” said Russ Webb, DDS, an oral surgeon who served as chair of the CDA Cares Sacramento clinic in 2012 and continues to serve on the Management Committee. “One of the big goals with Pomona is to have the lawmakers in that four-county area see the need.”

Pomona will be the first CDA Cares clinic since some of the Denti-Cal benefits were restored.

Reimbursement rates for providers are another issue. Immediately after the state decided to bring back adult Denti-Cal, reimbursement rates for providers, which are already among the lowest in the nation, were cut by 10 percent. In addition, the state moved approximately 875,000 children from the Healthy Families program to Medi-Cal.

“Dentists are on the frontline of providers affected by the cut, and we expect it will have an impact on access to care at a time when more patients have coverage under Medi-Cal,” CDA President James Stephens, DDS, said. “CDA is advocating for improvements to this program, including adequate reimbursement rates.”

The CDA Foundation will continue to do its part to help those who need access to oral health care through its CDA Cares clinics. CDA Cares Pomona Chair Scott Adishian, DDS, has practiced as a prosthodontist in Pasadena for 20 years. He says Pomona and the surrounding areas have a significant need for dental care.

“I believe that it is an area that has a fair number of individuals who may not have access to dental care for a number of reasons, including not having an understanding of how crucial optimal proper oral health is to their overall well-being,” Adishian said. “There are a lot of individuals who can certainly benefit from CDA Cares.”

Adishian is helping round up donations and volunteers for CDA Cares Pomona. The CDA Foundation needs the following types of volunteers on both days of the clinic: general dentists, pediatric dentists, oral surgeons, physicians, nurses and medical assistants, dental assistants and lab technicians.

On top of seeking dentist volunteers from the surrounding counties, Adishian has been telling his patients about the upcoming clinic in case they want to be involved as community volunteers, who can help in ways such as escorting patients from one area of the clinic to another. He also has asked his personal physician if he would be willing to assist in medical triage.

Webb put an emphasis on needing oral surgeon volunteers.

“We still need surgery coverage and we always run into a need on the Friday of these clinics. We’re relying on those who are working part time or semi-retired to staff the surgical areas on Friday,” Webb said. “I encourage people to come out and volunteer on both days, but particularly oral surgeons on Friday, Nov. 21.”

With the help of volunteers, CDA Cares Pomona will provide at no charge cleanings, fillings, extractions, oral health education and resources for finding a dentist for ongoing care.

“If you haven’t come out and volunteered at CDA Cares yet, I’ll guarantee you will go home very satisfied and rewarded for your effort. For those who have volunteered at every clinic, we are looking forward to seeing you again because these clinics are shining a positive spotlight on the good work dentists do in communities across the state and have absolutely raised the image of the profession and resulted in long-term public policy changes,” Webb said.

Adishian said dentists will leave feeling good about the help they have provided to people in need.

“It is very rewarding to see the changes we make in people's lives. It comes down to giving back and the appreciation that both the patients and the volunteers leave with,” Adishian said.

To register to volunteer and for more information about CDA Cares, visit cdafoundation.org/cdacares.