ENGLEWOOD — The dental clinic at St. Bernard Hospital and Healthcare Center is among three finalists this year for the second annual Wisdom Tooth Award, which will be determined in part by online voting.
Online voting ends 5 p.m. Friday for the statewide award by the Delta Dental of Illinois Foundation. The winner, which will be announced June 30, will receive a $100,000 grant, said Lora Vitek, director of philanthropy & community relations for the foundation.
"The $100,000 annual award recognizes one Illinois nonprofit organization that has made a significant impact on improving Illinois children’s oral health with a proven program that provides oral health education and access to oral health resources and care," she said. "This signature grant is designed to help expand or enhance an existing children’s oral health program in Illinois."
Besides St. Bernard Hospital, 324 W. 64th St., other finalists are Erie Family Health Center in Chicago and the Douglas County Health Department in downstate Tuscola. Last year Promise Healthcare in Champaign was the foundation's inaugural winner.
Derek Michaels, a spokesman for St. Bernard Hospital, said it would use the grant to continue treating special needs children at its dental clinic, whose director is Dr. Vipul Singhal.
"There are a limited number of facilities providing comprehensive oral health care for people with special needs," Singhal said. But "inside St. Bernard Hospital, the dental center has the advantage of access to operating rooms for patients who may need sedation in order to receive care."
Singhal said St. Bernard does more than treat special needs children.
"Routine dental hygiene such as flossing and brushing can require parental or caregiver support for persons with special needs," he said. "We help train the parents and caregivers to look for changes in the patients’ behavior, such as the patient rubbing their jaw or face. Some special needs patients lack the verbal skills to convey they are experiencing discomfort."
In addition to online voting and public comments, other criteria finalists must meet include alignment with the Delta Dental's mission, vision and program areas; program stability, longevity and success; financial and operational stability; positive or improved outcomes; and public awareness.
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