USC University of Southern California

LA Care Grant Funds Care for Patients at Ostrow School of Dentistry

LA Care Health Plan, the largest public health plan in the nation and an advocate for accessible health care coverage, awarded the Ostrow School of Dentistry Community Health Programs $75,000 in order to provide dental care for patients in need.

The grant, an outreach effort of LA Care’s Community Benefit Programs, funded care for 100 adult patients who had previously been Denti-Cal enrollees but had had their dental coverage removed due to steep cuts in adult dental benefits in 2009. LA Care funds paid for procedures that would have otherwise been covered by Denti-Cal prior to the cuts, including dentures, root canal treatments, tooth restorations, and more.

Roseann Mulligan, Associate Dean of Community Health Programs and Hospital Affairs at the Ostrow School of Dentistry, said the Denti-Cal cuts had immediate, serious effects for those who couldn’t afford dental care otherwise.

“Losing Denti-Cal coverage was quite traumatic for the many people who relied on it to care for their oral health needs,” Mulligan said. “This grant from LA Care helped us to lessen the impact.”

The patients were treated in the Ostrow School of Dentistry Special Patients Clinic, a clinic that caters to physically or mentally disabled patients, older adults, and adults dealing with other health problems.

“Almost all of the patients supported by this grant were disabled, and they were all very much in need,” said Meyerer Miller, project specialist in Community Health Programs. “Since their other medical needs often eat up so much of their resources, they can often have worse dental problems as a result. It’s nice to be able to offer someone who is having severe problems a way to get treatment.”

Sang Mi Kang, mother of patient Dong Kang, said the Special Patients Clinic was a great place for her son to get the specialized care he needs. Dong was referred to USC because he needed sedation during his appointments, which the Special Patients Clinic is fully equipped to provide.

The grant’s help in paying for treatment makes a big difference, Kang said.

“I really appreciate it,” she said. “I’m very, very thankful.”

Patient Salvador Sandoval and his wife Eddy Bello-Sandoval said they were also very thankful for the grant’s assistance, especially as seniors on a fixed income. They also praised Salvador’s student doctor, Saman Manesh DDS ’12.

“I have a wonderful dentist who’s very understanding and patient,” Sandoval said. “This is a great deal to me!”

Above: Ostrow faculty member Jaqueline Venturin discusses next steps for patient Dong Kang with his mother, Sang Mi Kang.