Published January 21, 2021
Blue Ridge Health provides a robust slate of medical services to the Western North Carolina community, offering everything from medical and dental services to behavioral health, nutrition and school-based programs. Founded in 1963, the organization began by providing health care to migrant farmworkers. Blue Ridge Health has evolved and grown over time, but its mission has remained steadfast – to provide quality healthcare that is accessible and affordable for all. The organization accepts Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance, and patients who are uninsured or have high deductibles can pay on a sliding scale based on income. Nobody is turned away for inability to pay. Dental care is an essential part of the medical services they provide. The organization has four dental practices located in Polk, Transylvania, Henderson and Rutherford Counties, as well as a mobile dental clinic that has been in operation for about a year and a half.
It’s the mobile dental clinic where Blue Ridge Health has partnered with Dogwood Health Trust in a grant that will help get their clinic back on the road after a necessary COVID-19 hiatus. The grant will help provide dental services for uninsured patients across six rural counties already in the organization’s service area – Haywood, Jackson, Rutherford, Polk, Transylvania and Swain Counties. Eventually, it is expected these services will expand to Macon, Graham, Cherokee and Clay Counties as well. “We don’t have brick and mortar dental clinics in the western region of Western North Carolina, so we hope to expand our outreach to that area by sending the mobile dental clinic that way,” says Brevard native Dr. Ben Cozart, dental director for Blue Ridge Health. “This way, our mobile clinic can help us determine the best location for a potential brick and mortar clinic in the future.”
The mobile clinic has two operatories and provides all the services patients in a standard clinic would receive, from preventive care such as cleaning and radiography to need-based care such as extractions and fillings.
“Our focus is to serve pediatric patients in order to prevent problems with oral health later in life and to also treat adult patients that have specific dental needs. By using the mobile bus, we can have an impact and be effective across the region,” says Dr. Cozart. In the future, the organization has plans to send the mobile clinic to schools to help students get the care they need.
“The Dogwood grant has been incredible. Dogwood was so easy to work with, and from the beginning, it was clear they wanted to help us further our mission.”
Haywood, Jackson, Rutherford, Polk, Transylvania and Swain Counties
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