The Veterans Oral Care Access Resource strives to provide veterans with affordable dental care.
Michael O’Connor has spent his career advocating for affordable veteran dental care on behalf of his father, who fought in World War II. His father received health care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, which allowed him to receive emergency care when he had a heart attack. O’Connor’s father faced many medical issues, while having no teeth as he could not get dental treatment.
“He got all this expensive care that kept him alive, but he couldn’t get any teeth,” said O’Connor, executive vice dean of NYU’s College of Dentistry. “He represents a lot of veterans who are in similar situations.”
NYU Dentistry in partnership with Veterans Affairs and the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System on July 1 to increase dental care for veterans throughout New York City through the Veterans Oral Care Access Resource, or VOCARE, part of the VETSmile pilot program. O’Connor said that because Veterans Affairs is underfundedThe program relies on the participation of federally accredited dental schools and health centers.
VETSmile is authorized by the VA MISSION Act of 2018, a congressional bill allowing the VA to create five-year pilot programs to refer ineligible veterans to private organizations in the community for free or reduced-cost dental care.
While more than 9 million veterans are registered in the veterans health system, only 1.4 million are eligible for dental care due to budget constraints, current health conditions, living conditions, and military service history. Consequently, many veterans may experience serious dental problems, which can lead to malnutrition, physical pain, infection, low self-esteem and job discrimination. More … than 2 millions ER visits by veterans are the result of poor oral health.
Martina Parauda, director of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, officially launched the partnership at an NYU Dentistry event on Nov. 8.
“One of the biggest complaints I would receive as director of the medical center is ‘How come I can’t get my teeth fixed? ‘” Parauda said. “We don’t just refer. We want to know, ‘OK, what happened to this veteran?’
NYU Dentistry intends to treat approximately 1,500 patients in one year and increase referrals to reach 5,000 clinic visits. VOCARE dentist Brian Eng added that in order to increase accessibility, the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities, a specialty clinic within the program, has specially trained staff who will treat veterans with disabilities or with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Roshni Ghosh, acting executive director of the Veterans Health Administration Center for Care and Payment Innovation, said one of the biggest benefits of working with NYU is its commitment to providing lifelong health care to veterans. fighters.
“NYU has been beyond generous in supporting our veterans,” Ghosh said. “They have embedded the mission of access to affordable care into their curriculum and they support the principle that inability to pay should in no way preclude access to high quality care.”
Contact Vinith Yedidi at [email protected]