Dental care on wheels

The Ronald McDonald House program is known for providing a “home away from home” for families so they can stay close by their hospitalized child at little or no cost.

They also have the Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles that provide cost-effective, high-quality medical, dental and health educational services, all on a 40-foot long, 8-foot wide vehicle built specifically for delivering pediatric health care services. Each vehicle includes two patient examination rooms, a laboratory, and reception and medical records areas. They offer a variety of medical services, according to the community’s need.

This week, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile of North Dakota will deliver dental preventive and treatment services to underserved children ages 0 to 21 in the Minot community. The care mobile will be located in the parking lot of First Lutheran Church, 120-5th Ave. N.W., near the City and Country Health Clinic starting at 9 a.m. and continuing on through the day. People are encouraged to call the City and Country Health Clinic at 701-833-1951 to make an appointment.

Children are eligible for these services if they are ages 0 to 21; do not have a regular dentist; or have not seen a dentist in the past two years for regular treatment, unless there are special circumstances. This does not include treatment received on the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. Dentists on the unit will see children previously seen on the Care Mobile as time permits.

Basic dental exams are provided on the Care Mobile stationed here this week. Services include exams, x-rays, cleanings, fluoride treatments, dental sealants, fillings, pulpotomies and simple extractions. Children needing complex or specialized treatment will be referred to specialists in the area. Also, there is no nitrous oxide available on the mobile unit, so children needing that will also be referred to an area dentist.

Christy Peterson, public health dentist and dentist on the mobile unit, said they wanted to bring the mobile unit to Minot because they know there’s a need.

“It’s for people who for some reason, whether financial or access issues, have not been able to get to a dentist, or can’t find a dentist who will take them on Medicaid or can’t afford it,” she continued.

They are reaching out to children who have no other means to get dental care, Peterson said. They want children to have a good dental experience so they can learn to prevent dental disease and grow up with strong healthy teeth, she also said.

Last year, the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile of North Dakota was stationed at not only the First Lutheran Church parking lot, but also at the schools and the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. This year, the mobile unit will only be here for one week.

“Normally, we just pull up to a school and the kids come in on their own,” Peterson noted, “but this time is different because the parent comes in with the child and they have an appointment.”

Lynn Babcock, qualified dental assistant on the mobile unit, said the crew works for three weeks and are off one week.

“We work a lot of hours. We try to see every child as long as we have time and they show up,” she added. The goal is to be on the road for 40 weeks per year delivering care in communities in western North Dakota.

Working on the Care Mobile is a great opportunity to help children, Peterson said. If they can reach the children when they are young, most dental disease can be prevented, she added.

“The truck is intriguing for kids and they’re usually curious about it,” Peterson remarked. “We try to make the experience special and exciting.”

There are still openings available on the Care Mobile. Appointments can be made by calling the City and Country Health Clinic at 701-833-1951.