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Dental Clinic Model Promises Care for California Frail Elderly and Other Underserved Populations

September 20, 2013

Apple Tree DentalSince 2010 Dr. Dick Gregory, a second-year UCSF Geriatric Dentistry Fellow, has worked closely with the Peninsula Health Care District (PHCD) and Apple Tree Dental Founder and CEO Dr. Michael Helgeson to implement a community-based collaborative project focused on oral health for underserved populations, including the elderly.

The PHCD Board of Directors has now approved $2 million in funding to launch an Apple Tree Center for Dental Health on District-owned property at 430 N. El Camino Real in San Mateo.

A rapidly growing population of frail older adults and people with disabilities are not currently able to access traditional dental offices and clinics to the same degree as younger and much healthier people.  The Apple Tree model of care proactively targets specific community organizations where these high-risk underserved population groups live, work, attend school, or obtain other health or social services.  The model uses mobile outreach units and teledentistry to remove barriers to access and provide basic oral hygiene and dental services to underserved populations in the San Mateo County service area.  The new delivery models are beginning to demonstrate better health care delivery, better health outcomes, and the potential to drive down total health care costs for older adults and people with disabilities.

The PHCD will lease its building to Apple Tree Dental for 10 years, assist with financing the tenant improvements and purchase of equipment, and provide operating capital for the launch. The Center is expected to open in the summer of 2014.

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