(press release sent to WSBS from Mass Dental for online and on air use) 

Southborough, MA – March 5, 2018 – The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) Foundation recently awarded “Expanding Access to Dental Care” grants to five organizations in Massachusetts. The goal of the grants is to improve the oral health of residents of the Commonwealth by supporting sustainable programs that improve access to dental care.

Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) Berkshires in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, received a $25,000 grant to enable the organization to hire a part-time dentist for its dental program to supplement the work of its volunteers. The addition of a part-time dentist on staff will allow VIM to treat an additional 75 to 100 patients each year.

VIM Berkshires provides access to free, comprehensive health care for those in the Berkshire region who are income-qualified and uninsured or underinsured. Dental services were among the first offerings of VIM following its opening in 2004. VIM’s services are provided by volunteer clinicians – including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants – who are supported by a small paid staff. Services range from routine cleaning to complicated tooth extractions, bridges and full dentures.

“Relying on both retired and still-practicing dentists, VIM has worked valiantly to keep up with an increase in patient numbers,” said VIM Berkshires Dental Director Dr. William Hayhurst. “This funding for a new part-time dentist will help VIM continue to meet its commitment to provide free care for qualified individuals. This commitment is vital to the oral health of hundreds of residents in the region.”

In the fiscal year ending June 2017, VIM Berkshires provided more than $500,000 in free dental services to more than 550 members of the community, an increase of more than 30 percent over the prior year. With an increasing number of veterans without dental insurance who are coming to VIM, an increasing number of patients over 65 who have no dental insurance, and the general aging of the area’s population, VIM expects this trend will continue.

“Because of the generosity of MDS members and their desire to support an active Foundation, we are able to assist organizations like VIM Berkshires in their efforts to improve the overall health of many Massachusetts residents who ordinarily might not receive care,” said MDS Foundation Chair Dr. Robert Lewando. “It is our hope that our Foundation will continue to grow so we can help sponsor additional services that will most benefit communities in need.”

The MDS Foundation is the charitable arm of the Massachusetts Dental Society. The MDS Foundation is dedicated to directing its charitable resources to improve the oral health of Massachusetts residents. To learn more, visit massdental.org/Foundation.