KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Hundreds of kids in the Kansas City Missouri School District now have a new option for dental care. And, they won't have to travel very far for it.
A new dental clinic opened Feb. 14th inside J.A. Rogers Elementary School, located at 6400 E. 23rd St.
School and health leaders are gathering at the school on Monday to celebrate the opening.
Wendy McNitt, the school's principal, says more than 90 percent of students at the school qualify for free and reduced lunches and don't have much access to dental care.
"We have children who have toothaches and abscesses, and many times they go untreated for long periods of time," says McNitt. "With this located here in this building, we can have them seen at any time during the day."
Samuel Rodgers Health Center is staffing the clinic. The dental team hopes to provide teeth cleanings, fillings, sealants, and other services to 1,200 students and nearby residents.
Dr. Daniel Purdom, medical director at Samuel Rodgers, says surveys by the health center have found that dental care is a top priority for low-income parents, but finding dental offices which will see their children can be difficult.
"People are concerned about their kids getting dental care. They want their child to be able to get care when they need it," Dr. Purdom says. "And it's hard for them to find it. Particularly for children with Medicaid, there aren't many Medicaid providers in the state of Missouri. Since we do provide services to children, we're a good fit."
Besides J.A. Rogers, McCoy Elementary School used to have a similar, smaller dental clinic. It shut down when the school closed last spring. The KCMO school district also has a mobile dental clinic, which travels from school to school, but the J.A. Rogers clinic is the district's only dental clinic based at a school.
The district has operated school-based medical clinics since 1995. There are currently ones inside Paseo, Northeast, and Central.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
Download recent health stories or subscribe to the KCUR Health Podcast.