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July 22, 2009

DHHS approves nearly half-million in funding for mobile unit

The University of Louisiana at Monroe recently received an award notification of nearly a half-million dollars to fund a mobile unit designed to improve the oral health of patients throughout northeast Louisiana.

The Department of Health and Human Services approved $471,240 in mid-July for the ULM Mobile Dental Health Unit, say university officials. The project funding is approved through December 2010.

The new unit has the potential to reach hundreds of citizens who do not receive regular dental care due to barriers related to affordability and accessibility, according to College of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Denny Ryman.

Ryman said that by providing these services, particularly in the rural parishes of northeast Louisiana, the college and university aspires to improve the dental health of children and adults, and ultimately the work force in the Louisiana Delta.

The unit will also serve as a training site for ULM students,” he said. “In addition to the students, part-time dentists and faculty from the ULM School of Dental Hygiene will staff the full-service dental operation.”

The Mobile Dental Health Unit will be equipped so that providers might examine the oral cavity for oral cancer or other diseases, interpret X-rays, provide thorough teeth cleaning, oral health care instruction, dietary counseling and patient education, Ryman added.

“Louisiana, especially the 5th Congressional District, is largely rural and medically underserved,” said U.S. Congressman Rodney Alexander (R-La.). “Our residents face significant challenges in obtaining quality dental care for their families.

“I believe that our universities are one of the best tools we have to help bring these critical services into our communities. I applaud DHHS for recognizing this need, and providing the necessary funding so that ULM’s efforts can continue and expand,” he said.

“We are extremely proud of the College of Health Sciences faculty, led by Dean Ryman, for their initiative and hard work on a project with such life-changing potential,” said ULM President James Cofer, adding, “Just as we are grateful to Congressman Alexander, Sen. Mary Landrieu, and all our Louisiana delegates for their advocacy, which was instrumental in helping the project come to fruition.”

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