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QCC and Central Mass. Agency on Aging Find Success in Senior Dental Program

April 2023
  • QCC'S Dental Clinic
    QCC'S Dental Clinic

Quinsigamond Community College and The Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging (CMAA) have partnered to offer free dental care to seniors, finishing off the first year of its partnership with an increase in seniors coming to QCC for dental care. QCC’s Dental Clinic offers culturally sensitive, professional preventative dental services for older adults, as well as a chance for QCC students to gain hands-on, real world experience working with senior patients. Adults must be 55 years of age or older and reside in Central Massachusetts to take advantage of this service.

“A lot of seniors have complicated medical situations, which is good for the students to learn about. It’s also great to see the student and the patient develop a relationship. You can see that the patients just love the students,” said Dental Clinic Operations and Facilities Manager Sheryl Ficorilli.

QCC has been offering low-cost dental care to seniors for over 20 years; however, now through the collaboration of CMAA there is no cost to patients. The free service covers cleanings and exams, prescription fluoride, as well as gowns and masks for the students.

“Dental care is a key part of overall wellness. However, many older adults lack access to dental care due to cost, not having insurance, transportation issues, and other barriers,” said Dr. Moses Dixon, president & CEO of Central Massachusetts Agency on Aging, Inc. “We are proud to partner with Quinsigamond Community College to ensure that seniors in the Worcester area and beyond have access to the health resources and services they need. We are committed to improving dental care in our communities. This partnership ensures that is possible.”

Due to increased student enrollment in the upcoming Fall 2023 semester along with support from the grant, the clinic will be able to increase the number of patients it can accommodate. During the first year, the program served 270 patients over 578 visits. The average patient age was 71.

Professor and Coordinator of the Dental Hygiene Program Jane Gauthier presented the program on March 28 at the Lifting Community Through Scholarship and Action event that highlighted partnerships between local higher education institutions and the community.

"Most of these seniors don't have dental insurance and Medicare does not cover routine and preventative dental services. Close to 70% of seniors in our area have periodontal disease which is the leading cause of tooth loss and is associated with heart disease and respiratory illness. It's critical that our seniors have access to dental care and our partnership with CMAA is addressing this issue. So far the success has been very rewarding and we're happy that we can have an impact on the people of our community," Gauthier said.

This partnership caught the attention of Dr. Joia Stapleton Mukherjee, associate professor of Global Health and Social Medicine and Director, Master of Medical Sciences in Global Health Delivery, HMS in Global Medical Education and Social Change at Harvard.

“Dr. Mukherjee was instrumental in the tracking and containment of COVID-19 and was impressed by all the safety measures we put in place to get our clinic open during COVID. She was also very impressed that we used COVID funds to improve infrastructure compared to other programs that used the funding to purchase masks, gowns and disposables,” Ficorilli said.