CHARLESTON — Mutual of America has named the mobile dental clinic program operated in partnership by West Virginia Health Right and the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine as an Honorable Mention award recipient of its 2019 Community Partnership Award, according to a news release.

The Community Partnership Award recognizes nonprofit organizations that “demonstrate the value of their partnership to the communities they serve.” In addition, the award reflects the projects’ ability to be replicated by others and their capacity to stimulate new approaches to addressing significant social issues. The mobile dental clinic program ranked in the top three of 10 programs for the award, and received $25,000 from Mutual of America to continue funding the program.

The mobile unit was established in 2017 to provide preventive and restorative dental services to residents of McDowell, Logan, Boone, Clay, Roane and Harrison counties. The unit is a 38-foot gooseneck trailer with three dental chairs and an x-ray machine. The unit operates three days a week and visit each site twice a month, serving uninsured and Medicaid-insured patients at no charge to the patient.

“In just two years, the mobile dental unit has provided more than $2.2 million worth of care to more than 5,000 adults,” said Angie Settle, DNP, APRN, BC, FNP, West Virginia Health Right’s CEO and executive director. “We’re already seeing marked success in terms of improved oral hygiene, reduced oral-related infection and oral-related emergency department visits and a decrease in the number of workdays missed due to oral pain and infection.”

Malav Shah, DDS, an assistant professor in the Department of Dentistry, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at the Marshall School of Medicine, staffs the vehicle. Other partners, including Coalfield Health Clinic and Roane General Hospital, provide on-site access to the internet and utilities at no cost to the program.

“The impact we’re able to have on oral health through this program extends beyond each visit as patients take what we’ve taught them about oral health and hygiene home to their families,” said Raj K. Khanna, DMD, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Dentistry, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery. “We are honored to participate in a program that represents the true spirit of community partnership—organizations coming together to address a need in our communities.”

Mutual of America announced the award Nov. 14 in New York City. Mutual of America will visit Charleston in February to recognize the program team at a luncheon.