Maryland Expands Public Health Care Services

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Governor Martin O’Malley announced that three Maryland counties and one community hospital will receive awards totaling $500,000 over the next year to increase the number of Maryland residents with access to dental health care.

Three grants, made available by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DHMH) Office of Oral Health, have been awarded to local health departments in Worcester, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, and to Calvert County’s Memorial Hospital.

"Together, we have been able to expand dental care so that we don't have another sad tragedy like that of Deamonte Driver, the 12 year-old boy who passed away last year after an infection caused by an untreated toothache," said Governor O'Malley. "A strong public dental health safety net is critical to meet our state's oral health needs, and these grants ensure our most vulnerable citizens get the dental care they deserve."

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The funds are designed to make dental health care available in areas of the state that have the highest need for a public dental health program. Calvert Memorial Hospital will receive $106,124, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties $248,801, and Worcester County $145,075. Each is eligible for subsequent funding for up to two more years.

"These four counties were selected because they documented that significant oral health challenges exist among their residents," said DHMH Secretary John M. Colmers. “A ‘dental home’ will be created in these jurisdictions to provide comprehensive dental health care to their communities.”

Each county currently does not have any kind of public dental health program.

“Despite recent statewide improvements in dental health, significant dental problems still exist in Maryland, especially for people with lower incomes and lower educational levels,” said Dr. Harry Goodman, director of the DHMH Office of Oral Health. “We are hopeful that these grants will help us begin to turn the corner in addressing the dental disease problems of our neediest state residents.”

A separate $500,000 dental capital infrastructure award(s) from the department’s offices of Oral Health and Capital Planning, Budgeting and Engineering Services will be announced this fall.

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