The Knox County Board of Health has given their approval to move ahead with applying for a grant to expand dental services.
Money is being released by the Health Resources and Services Administration and Knox County’s health department could receive up to $300,000.
They would use the money to hire a full-time dentist and a vehicle that could reach patients in areas that have difficulty making it to the health center.
Health Department CEO Michele Fishburn says assuming the grant is accepted there would still be challenging hurdles, like recruiting a dentist.
“Dentists are a really, really tough recruit and it has to be a full time person according to the grant,” Fishburn says. “And of course how we would move the equipment around–we’ve never owned a vehicle. Of course, the county has owned vehicles but the health department itself has not.”
Fishburn envisions the mobile dental unit reaching places like Head Start, public housing and more distant towns like Abingdon.
She also think that in addition to dental services, education will be a part of the program.
Currently they work with an agency called Miles of Smiles that goes into schools to check students but if the doctors find something parents are responsible for bringing their kids to the health center.
The full application for the grant is due in February and Fishburn expects to know the grant’s status by spring.
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