Dental Care on the Go

6.23.20

It’s not exactly a house call – but thanks to the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, dental care for kids is now much closer to home.

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a new program for us, a partnership with Chiricahua Community Health Centers, Inc. (CCHCI). It rolled out this summer, bringing dental care to children in communities throughout Cochise County. The CCHCI dental staff provides comprehensive dental care – cleanings, sealants, varnishes, X-rays and restorative care including fillings, crowns, bridges and repairing damaged teeth.

“It is amazing,” says Melissa Dee VanDongen. “It is so much easier. They can set up the appointments and I can get all three kids done in the morning, so they don’t miss a whole day of school. I’ve lived in Benson my entire life. We used to go out of town until the Care Mobile came to this area.”

The very first patient to the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile in Bisbee was an 11-year-old girl who had chipped her two front teeth when a handstand went awry. She had been extremely self-conscious about her teeth for more than a year. That first day she got her teeth cleaned and her front teeth fixed. “She saw herself in the mirror afterwards and was beaming. She was so happy, just in time for the new school year,” said Dr. Brianna Hillier, Director of Dental Services.

“This was a true testimony as to why we’re here – and why I am so grateful that Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Arizona is collaborating with us to bring these much-needed services to our rural communities. Our patients often have little to no transportation, and when they do it is often unreliable. This little girl could have gone several more years without getting her teeth fixed because her grandmother could not bring her to the next closest town (more than 45 minutes away), nor could they afford it. Bringing dental care to her has not only improved her self-esteem, but also her overall health,” Hillier said. “I look forward to more and more experiences like this.”

The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile has regularly scheduled visits to the Benson Family Health Center, the Copper Queen Community Hospital and the Bisbee Family Health Center. It also visits elementary schools in Pearce, Elfrida, McNeal and Naco. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of three- to five-year-olds with tooth decay. And to start children on a lifetime of good oral health.

The van was purchased with support from our global headquarters. We support a portion of the clinical operation. Arizona Complete Health and the Legacy Foundation of Southeastern Arizona provided grant support. This year we earned a grant from Arizona Complete Health to help build a parking structure for the new dentist office on wheels.

“I am so honored to provide dental services on this Care Mobile,” said Hillier. It is a beautiful vehicle and is quickly turning into the ‘cool, new’ thing to see driving around Cochise County.”