ODA Foundation awards nearly $85,000 in grants and scholarships

The ODA Foundation awarded scholarships to 36 dental students to help defray the cost of dental education.

In 2015, the Ohio Dental Association Foundation awarded nearly $85,000 in grants and scholarships. The Foundation awards grants to programs working to improve access to dental care in Ohio and scholarships to qualified dental students to help decrease their dental school debt.

“As the holidays approach and we close in on the end of another year, the fact that it is better to give than to receive becomes even more meaningful,” said Dr. Kim Gardner, chair of the ODA Foundation. “Your ODA Foundation was able to provide scholarships to nearly 40 of our youngest colleagues to give them some help with the tremendous financial burdens that are upon them. The generosity of ODA members can never be minimized and is always greatly appreciated. The profession of dentistry has always been marked as one in which giving of one’s best is expected. Service to others and the gift of healing are hallmarks of a true dental professional. Our members show these hallmarks on a daily basis and their love for their profession and our future members is reflected in their support of the Foundation.”

Foundation grant to help create school-based dental clinic

The ODA Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to Primary Health Solutions in Butler County. Primary Health Solutions is currently in the process of opening a school based health center that will include a dental clinic at Fairfield Academy in Fairfield City Schools. The grant will be used to help purchase equipment for the dental clinic.

“The recipient of our grant this year was Primary Health Solutions of Butler County,” said Dr. Kim Gardner, chair of the ODA Foundation. “The grant will be used for expansion of their facilities to be able to serve more of those individuals who need dental care, but are unable to afford it. It is our mission to not only assist in defraying the cost of dental education but also to provide some solutions to the access to care issue in Ohio. Through the generosity of our members, we are able to make a difference.”

Primary Health Solutions is the only Federally Qualified Health Center in Butler County and currently has a mobile dental office with two operatories that visits public schools in Butler County. Once the clinic is open, students in Fairfield City Schools will be seen at the clinic, which will allow the van to travel to other schools in Butler County and see additional students, said Marc Bellisario, CEO at Primary Health Solutions.

The dental clinic will have three operatories and will have a paid dentist and hygienist. In the first year, the clinic intends to provide about 2,420 dental visits and within three years the clinic plans to have seen all students in the district. Each student’s first visit at the clinic will include a full dental exam, x-rays, prophylaxis and sealants. The clinic will also see teachers and parents.

The clinic will utilize insurance and Medicaid if available, and children who do not have insurance will pay a $20 fee per school year that will cover all dental care.

Primary Heath Solutions has found that about half of the students at the school do not have a dental home and only visit a dentist when they have a crisis such as a tooth ache or broken tooth, Bellisario said.

In addition to the dental clinic, the school health center will also offer medical, vision and behavioral health care.

“It’s a comprehensive vision of meeting multiple needs of children right while they’re at school,” Bellisario said. He added that having a clinic in the school helps provide easier access to care for children because often it can be difficult for parents to get time off work to take their children to appointments.

Bellisario said one goal of the clinic is to have children in the district regularly visiting for a check-up and cleaning instead of going to the dentist only when they are in pain.

“We’re focused on kids. If we don’t start with the children, if we don’t start changing the way people think about dental visits, 50 years from now we’ll be in the same position we are now,” he said. He added that Primary Health Solutions is thrilled to receive the grant. “It helps us reach our goal of improving not just health care but oral health for all the kids in our area,” he said.

ODA Foundation scholarship recipients aim to improve access to care in Ohio

The ODA Foundation awarded $73,000 in scholarships to 36 dental students.

“We are well aware of the tremendous debt load that our dental school colleagues bear,” said Dr. Kim Gardner, chair of the ODA Foundation. “Due to the generosity of ODA member dentists, we are able to help defray a portion of the debt of these future ODA members. It is our privilege to help where we can.”

Scholarships were awarded to 26 students at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, nine students at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and one student at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry.

“The ODAF scholarship is really important to me,” said Britni Skoda, a dental student at CWRU. “I’m financing my education completely on my own, so by receiving a scholarship, that means I can take out less loans and have less financial burden after graduation, which is phenomenal. At the end of the day I’m going to be a graduating dental student with close to $400,000 in student debt, so any scholarship money I receive is a wonderful gift.”

This is the first year the ODAF board has awarded a scholarship to a student attending a dental school outside of Ohio.

“The ODA Foundation Board of Trustees recognizes that while the majority of Ohio resident students attend one of the two Ohio based dental schools, a significant number of students find their dental school homes out of state,” said Dr. Billie Sue Kyger, past chair of the ODA Foundation. “These students are equally deserving of our student scholarships and often have an even greater financial debt to service upon graduation.”

Sam Glick, a dental student at University of Louisville who received an ODAF scholarship, said he is very appreciative of the ODA and the opportunity the Foundation has provided for him with a scholarship. Glick said he decided to attend school out of state because he was impressed with the program at Louisville and thought it would be an opportunity to spend four years broadening his horizons and exploring a new city and state.

“My plans have always been to come back home to Cleveland and join my family (grandfather, father and uncle) in general practice,” he said. “Dentistry is in our blood, and I’m hopeful one of my younger cousins decides to follow the same path and continue the tradition as well.”

The scholarship recipients are among the top students in their classes and are active in many dental and non-dental volunteer activities. They meet criteria that include academic excellence, volunteerism and financial need.

“Just being selected was a pretty humbling experience because there are people who are well established that thought enough of me to try and help me out, and it is tough being a student,” said Richard Hall, a dental student at OSU. “Knowing that somebody who’s there in a profession that you’re going into that you haven’t established yourself in yet at all is there to help you really kind of spoke volumes about the career that we’re in and is something I would like to try to emulate later on.”

Most of the students chosen are active in the American Student Dental Association, many of them holding leadership positions. Most of them plan to practice in Ohio after graduation and are committed to continued involvement in organized dentistry.

“I think a big thing now that we’re seeing in the state of Ohio especially is the underserved areas like where I’m from in Appalachia,” Hall said. “So in order to try to help access to care I’d like to go home and practice there and really raise awareness about oral health overall and try the best I can to meet the needs that are there.”

Skoda agreed that practicing in an underserved area is important to her after graduation.

“I intend to complete dental school at Case and continue to practice in Cleveland and the surrounding areas,” she said. “Cleveland is definitely a community in need of better access to dental care, so I want to do as much as I can to volunteer with groups that strive to improve this access. I plan to structure my office in a way to assist in this endeavor also. Everyone deserves access to great oral health care and I plan to be at the forefront of making a difference in the community.”

Lydia Lancaster received this year’s James F. Mercer Leadership Scholarship, which is awarded based on merit to one student entering the fourth year of dental school at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry to recognize leadership and accomplishments in the first three years of dental school.

“Being recognized as the Mercer scholarship recipient is truly a humbling honor,” Lancaster said. “It’s especially special to me because I really became a leader because of organized dentistry. I wasn’t very involved before dental school, so the American Student Dental Association is where my leadership potential blossomed. So really, I have ASDA and the Ohio Dental Association to thank as the dentists and the leaders in the ODA welcomed me and encouraged me to grow. Receiving this award means far more than money to me, it holds personal meaning. I’m truly grateful for the ODA and the ODA Foundation’s support of not only me but all the students as we pursue our careers in dentistry.”

Additionally, the ODA Foundation awarded a total of $1,250 to two EFDA students and the Ohio Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons Fund (a designated fund within ODAF) awarded a total of $4,500 in grants to oral and maxillofacial dental residency programs.

Interested in helping access to care programs and dental students in Ohio?

Consider these ways to advance the mission of the ODA Foundation:

  • Make an end of year donation online at www.oda.org/donate/donate-to-the-oda-foundation/. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by the law. Consult your tax-planning and financial advisor to maximize your tax benefits.
  • Donate when you pay your membership dues. Membership dues statements are being mailed out in November.
  • Plan ahead for memorial contributions by advising your loved ones that when it is time, you would like your obituary to include that “contributions can be made to the ODA Foundation” in your honor.
  • Talk with your financial planner about planned giving options such as leaving a bequest to the ODA Foundation in your will.