Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc. has been building up its dental program to include increasing its capacity to see patients in Northampton County. During the last Rural Health fiscal year, from June 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022, Rural Health saw 4,819 patients through 11,229 visits at its two Northampton County dental locations.
In 2020, the opening of the new Eastville Community Health Center increased the number of dental chairs available from six chairs to 14 chairs in the county. Rural Health added two dentists and a hygienist in the county with the opening of the new Eastville center. An additional dentist also was added to the Rural Health Franktown Community Health Center in 2020. This dentist is supported in part by a grant from the Virginia Health Care Foundation. Additionally, the Franktown center was to close when the new Eastville center opened. However, in 2018, the community lost several private dental practices to retirement. The Rural Health Board of Directors responded by approving to keep the Franktown center as a dental only site in January 2019.
The dentist supported by the Virginia Health Care Foundation grant added a second dentist at the Franktown center and ultimately allowed Rural Health to move another dentist to Rural Health’s new Nandua Middle School dental location.
New Developments – Start of Northampton County Public Schools and Rural Health School Dental Program
In the fall of 2021 the Northampton County Public Schools Board approved an agreement with Rural Health to provide dental services at Kiptopeke and Occohannock Elementary Schools and Northampton High/Middle School. Services will begin this September at the start of the 2022-2023 school year. Initially there will be a permanent dental site at Kiptopeke Elementary that offers services to both prevent oral disease and repair existing oral disease, while the Traveling Oral Health Program (TOPs) will visit other NCPS schools offering prevention services. The NCPS program will be modeled after the Accomack County Public Schools school dental program. Rural Health has received a grant from Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation to buy equipment for the Kiptopeke dental office.
With this program parents give permission for their children to be seen during the school day. The
student is escorted to the dental provider and then back to class. Children do not have to attend schools with a permanent location to be seen (Kiptopeke for now) – parents and caregivers may make an appointment for any Northampton County child that is age 6 months to 18 years old. Rural Health hopes to provide dental services to roughly 400 NCPS students during the first year of the NCPS-Rural Health dental partnership.
In order to participate in the dental program parents must “opt in” and register their children. The application form for registration will be included with the back to school paperwork sent home the first week of school as well as be available during back to school open house.