DANBURY, Conn -- U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty believes all people -- regardless of whether they have insurance or not -- should receive dental care. And, she said, many have been going without.
"There is a crying need for affordable dental care in our state and around the country," said Esty, D-5th District. "There are over 30,000 individuals in the greater Danbury area who are currently not getting any dental care, and that's just wrong."
But a step in the right direction has just been made in Danbury, according to Esty.
On Monday, Esty announced the CIFC's Greater Danbury Community Health Center on Main Street will receive an annual federal grant of $350,000 to expand dental services in greater Danbury. She was joined at the announcement by James Maloney -- president and CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Communities.
The grant, which will be permanently renewed, is from the Health Resources and Services Administration and will be added to the core budget of the community health center.
The grant will enable the Greater Danbury Community Health Center to add three dentists, two dental hygienists and five dental assistants to its existing dental team, as well add as two dental rooms.
Maloney said the need for such a grant was first realized a few years ago when "Mission of Mercy" held a weekend-long dental clinic in Danbury to provide free dental services to those who were uninsured. During that period, "they saw 1,200 people and did more than 12,000 procedures," Maloney said.
This showed the huge need for dental services.
"We said here is an opportunity to meet a very pressing need in our community," he said.
The more that is learned now about dental health, Esty said, the more society realizes that good dental health is a core part of mental health.
"When you can't smile, it affects how you feel about yourself and about how other people treat you. It has a profound impact on your ability to interact with other people," she said.
This grant will provide incredibly important core services for families and children "right here in Danbury," Esty said.
"With the grant, we will be able to provide the full range of dental services and promote dental health," she said.
The CIFC/GDCHC is a federally qualified health center that provides a comprehensive range of medical, dental, and behavioral primary healthcare services on a sliding fee basis to people of all ages.It operates nine clinical sites:
- 57 North St., Danbury,
- 37 Foster St., Danbury.
- 70 Main St., Danbury,
- a Mobile Health Van;
- Henry Abbott Technical High School;
- Danbury High School,
- Rogers Park Middle School
- Broadview Middle Schools; and
- Newtown Middle School.
An additional Health Center site and Institute office building is now under construction at 120 Main St. and is expected to be completed in the late fall.
A dedication event will be held at the new site on Oct. 31 at 11 a .m. This new site will provide auxiliary dental services.
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