Austin is known as a healthy and vibrant city, but many disparities exist among our neighbors, and the gap between people and the services they need is only widening as our city and the surrounding region continues to grow. Access to quality, affordable healthcare is one of the most pressing issues that our community is working to solve, which is why we announced over $37 million in new healthcare-related grants being made across our five county area today, as part of our summer grant cycle. Many of these grants support our local safety net clinics, such as People’s Community Clinic, where we also hosted a grant announcement event in conjunction with the grand opening for their new dental program.
Poor dental health affects people of all ages in Central Texas. One in four children have untreated tooth decay, making it the most common chronic illness among school-aged children. It is also a condition that is twice as prevalent in low-income populations, and there are tens of thousands of Central Texas adults who lack dental insurance and struggle to obtain dental care because of affordability challenges, transportation barriers, and lack of geographic access.
Of our summer slate of grants, over $5M in funding will go to organizations providing much needed free and low-cost dental care to our community including Manos de Cristo, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), Community Health Centers of South Central Texas, Lone Star Circle of Care, CommuniCare Health Centers (Hays County), Sacred Heart Community Clinic, AIDS Services of Austin, and Samaritan Health Ministries.
As the largest mobile dental clinic providing charity care in the country, we have a fleet of 8 vans in the community every day, and recently, the time came to replace some of our older vans. To take advantage of this unique opportunity, we decided to donate three of our mobile dental vans to three organizations in order to expand the footprint of dental services across the region.
In Smithville, our retired van is now a dental clinic being run by Smithville Community Clinic, in Elgin, our retired van is now at the Elgin ISD offices and is being run by Community Health Centers of South Central Texas, and our third van is now at People’s Community Clinic, and served as the backdrop for the grant announcement event and ribbon cutting ceremony.