Ronald McDonald Care Mobile®
Through the generosity of Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Northeastern Ohio (RMHC-NEO®), University Hospitals of Cleveland, McDonald’s® Restaurants of Northeastern Ohio and individual donors, Ohio’s first Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® (RMCM) hit the road in Spring 2010. Operated by the Irving and Jeanne Tapper Pediatric Dental Center of University Hospitals (UH) Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, the RMCM® provides treatment to underserved children between the ages of 3 and 6 years with immediate dental care, many of whom will get their first glimpse of a dentist's chair through this new service. Ronald McDonald House Charities® Global has donated the $355,000 vehicle which has been equipped with dental equipment valued at $500,000 by University Hospitals. The annual operating costs of nearly $300,000 will be borne by University Hospitals, RMHC-NEO®, insurance reimbursements, grants, and philanthropic support from corporations and individuals.
A 42-foot-long mobile dental clinic equipped with dental chairs and state-of-the-art equipment, the Care Mobile is targeted to provide preventive care to reduce the number of children experiencing early childhood caries, offer educational opportunities stressing the importance of good oral health as it relates to overall health and to reduce the number of children who are sent to the operating room each year for extensive dental treatment. Uniquely equipped to care for children’s dental needs, this program is targeting Head Start programs throughout Northern Ohio to approximately 1,000 children per year, achieving full capacity by 2013. In addition to dental screenings, the Care Mobile will provide follow-up pediatric dental services such as fillings, extractions, pulpotomies and chrome crowns with special emphasis on applying fluoride varnish, an efficacious public health tool, used in the fight against tooth decay, the most widespread chronic disease affecting children ages 3 to 17. Finally, the staff will work to connect the children and their families to primary care dentists, as well as provide assistance to enroll in appropriate insurance programs.
The Care Mobile is staffed with UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital dentists, pediatric dental residents, and dental assistants who specialize in behavior management and serve as a referral point for more complex procedures. Dr. Gerald Ferretti, Division Chief of Pediatric Dentistry at UH Rainbow reiterates that by going out into the community, one of the primary objectives they hope to achieve is to educate teachers and parents about the importance of children's oral hygiene and the effect it has on their health, performance and behavior.
Ronald McDonald Care Mobile® hours of operation are Monday through Friday during the school year, approximately 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, with a summer focus on year-round Head Start programs, attending Health Fairs and being visible at area recreational centers. For more information about the program, call (216) 844-5437, or visit the website at http://www.uhhospitals.org/rainbow/services/dental-services/care-mobile.