The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile returned to Shaker Heights Schools last month, once again leaving behind a trail of healthier smiles. Since 2012, the mobile dental van—which focuses its efforts on serving at-risk children who have little to no access to dental care—has paid annual visits to provide routine dental cleanings and preventative care for K-6 students. The demand is clear: childhood tooth decay is the #1 chronic childhood disease in America, five times more common than asthma.
The visits began six years ago when Boulevard Elementary School Nurse Janet Meinhard saw the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile at a conference she attended. Mrs. Meinhard reached out to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital (which operates the van) to organize a visit to Shaker Schools. Thanks to Mrs. Meinhard’s efforts, today Shaker students are among the 4,000 children (ages 3 to 12) in 20 Northeast Ohio counties who receive annual on-site dental care.
“These children are receiving dental care they wouldn’t ordinary get and better, their parents don’t have to be there, so they don’t have to miss work and the children don’t have to miss a day of school,” explains Mrs. Meinhard. “It’s also a huge plus for our international families who don’t know where to go for dental care and for our transient population.” Shaker Schools nurses also say that Care Mobile professionals are wonderful with students with special needs and who have anxiety over seeing a dentist. “One student’s family told me that he has always been afraid of the dentist and wouldn’t cooperate, but the manner in which the Care Mobile took care of her son was so awesome that she wanted to be the first to sign up this year,” she said. “The Care Mobile professions were able to substantially decrease his anxiety.”
The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is staffed by pediatric dentists and dental assistants and furnished with child-sized chairs and state-of-the-art equipment. Students are eligible for a visit as long as they have not seen a dentist in the past year.
Prior to a visit, Shaker School nurses send parents and guardians a notification letter. This year, more than 60 students participated in the program.
Learn more about the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile.