Since its establishment in 1983, the nonprofit Health and Community Service Center has provided dental treatment at the lowest possible cost to disadvantaged populations in Jerusalem. A staff of 14 dentists – all highly skilled, experienced, and licensed by the Israel Ministry of Health – 9 dental assistants, and 2 hygienists treat thousands of patients each month.
Smiling for Posterity
When Smiling for Posterity was initiated in 2008, services were provided absolutely free of charge. However, the Center’s staff discovered that patient satisfaction and compliance – particularly with fitted dentures – rose once they were responsible for partial payment. The current policy is to charge patients twenty percent of services rendered.
Smiling for Posterity is implemented through close collaboration with the Jerusalem Department of Social Services. Signed, numbered vouchers are distributed by the Department’s professional social workers to elderly individuals from their caseload. During the patient’s first visit to the clinic, the attending dentist conducts an initial examination, takes x-rays, and formulates a treatment plan that covers all indicated treatments, including but certainly not limited to the provision of crowns, dentures, and even implants. Each patient is automatically entered into the HCS database for routine dental check-ups.
Of particular importance, HCS employs several dental technicians specializing in dentures and one of the staff dentists has acquired expertise in implant surgery, a vital step in installing lower dentures, which require real teeth as anchors. The Center has procured the specialized equipment necessary to perform this complicated procedure and offers the surgery at about half the market price.
The most valid means of assessing the overall success and effectiveness of the program is to solicit information from the elderly patients and their families, who are periodically asked to complete a survey regarding their experience at the clinic. To ease the transition for patients, many of whom have rarely, if ever, visited the dentist and are understandably anxious, the clinic has developed new forms that provide incoming patients with an explanation of the benefits of their participation in the Smiling for Posterity program.
Internally, the program’s supervisory dentist goes over every single patient card and treatment plan to ensure that all diagnostic examinations and interventions are implemented at the highest standard. He also inspects the laboratory, checking each pair of dentures and each bridge to ensure that measurements were taken correctly.
HCS Smiling for Posterity program is kindly requesting gifting at an average cost of $3000 per patient to provide vital dental treatment to indigent senior citizens,.