Resource support

KCU Wins Federal Grant to Support Oral Health Care Initiative | Local News

Kansas City University has received a nearly $1.5 million grant to improve oral health in underserved and rural communities through its new College of Dentistry in Joplin.

The grant comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. It will fund a new KCU initiative called Educational Navigation for Rural and Interprofessional Community Health and will be implemented over a five-year period, KCU officials announced Wednesday.

“All communities deserve access to oral health care,” Linda Niessen, founding dean of the College of Dentistry and vice provost for oral health affairs, said in a statement. “This competitive award from HRSA recognizes KCU’s commitment to educating the next generation of dentists and improving access to oral health care in rural America.”

The initiative aims to recruit, enroll and graduate primary care dentists who represent historically underserved communities and who will provide dental care in rural and underserved areas including southwestern Missouri, southeastern Kansas , northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas.

KCU’s College of Dentistry, under construction at the Joplin campus, will enroll its first class of students in fall 2023.

“We are honored to receive this grant from HRSA,” Edward R. O’Connor, executive vice president for academic, research and student affairs, said in a statement. “The competitive nature of this grant process is a testament to the exceptional abilities of our KCU dental faculty and the entire university community in creating and implementing a program to address health disparities. oral health by recruiting students from areas who know and understand the needs and challenges of rural America. .”

University officials cited data showing that more than 46 million Americans live in places designated as dental health occupation shortage areas and lack basic access to dental care. Thousands of new dentists will be needed by 2025 to provide adequate oral health care in the United States

The grant is the second recently awarded to KCU. The university previously received a competitive grant, also from the Health Resources and Services Administration, to fund adaptation and resilience training in rural and underserved communities. This grant will amount to more than $1.57 million over three years.