(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) The Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) has awarded $1.5 million to the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine in Alton as part of its $20 million, five-year initiative to expand access to oral health care for Illinois children. The Foundation, which also awarded the same amount to the University of Illinois-Chicago College of Dentistry, wants to give more awards to nonprofit oral health care organizations that provide primary care services directly to children or formally collaborate with primary care providers, desiring to establish a new oral health service, expanding existing services in a clinical setting or implementing a community planning process.
The grant awarded to SIU will, over the next six years, allow the University to better prepare dentists to provide care for underserved children, primarily in Southern Illinois. "We are committed to serving the rural health care needs of Illinois," said Ann Boyle, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. "It will give us the opportunity to address a problem in the rural part of the state-access to dental care for children. We're very pleased to receive such an award." Under the terms of the award, the dental school will design and implement a program that modifies the admission process, updates curriculum, provides mentoring and support to students, expands community-based, service-learning opportunities and assesses the outcomes of the program.
SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift said the University's affiliated health care education programs-dental medicine, nursing and pharmacy-have built a reputation of serving the region as major resources. "Our healthcare outreach in the dental health care field will be greatly enhanced by this award from the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation," Vandegrift said. "We have a distinctive mission and vision as a premier metropolitan university to fulfill human potential," Vandegrift said. "This award will help us enhance the quality of life for the citizens of rural Illinois."
Dr. Peter E. Doris, chair of the ILCHF board of directors, said "expanding access to quality oral health care for all children in Illinois is one of the Foundation's primary objectives. As a component of ILCHF's oral health care initiative, the Foundation supports programs that are designed to increase the number of oral health professionals caring for underserved children. We are fortunate to have such a willing and capable partner in the Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine to help us fulfill our mission."