L.A. Care Awards $1.5 Million to Reduce ‘Dental Deserts’ Across L.A. County

The Grants Will Help Provide Care for More Than 11,000 New Dental Patients

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County is plagued with ‘dental deserts’ – areas where there is a shortage of dentists. These areas, generally under-resourced communities of color, have the lowest dental utilization. The L.A. County Department of Public Health reports that 74 percent of White Angelenos saw a dentist in the past year, while the number dropped to just 54 percent for Blacks and 50 percent for Latinos. Today, L.A. Care Health Plan announced it is awarding $1.5 million in Oral Health Initiative grants to 12 organizations that will expand access and improve the quality of oral health in poor communities of color.

Studies have linked poor oral health to a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “Many of our Medi-Cal members live in dental deserts, so we have to address this crisis if we are going to improve their health outcomes, and we are committed to doing just that.”

ParkTree Community Health Center is one of the 12 awardees. Dr. David M. Kadar, ParkTree’s CEO, is keenly aware of the impact a smile can have on a person.

A smile is priceless,” says Kadar. “Dentistry’s impact on an individual’s overall health is enormous and has the ability to enhance someone’s self-esteem every time they smile. The L.A. Care grant will enable ParkTree to hire an additional dentist who will provide high quality diagnostic, preventive and restorative services to almost 1,000 low-income and uninsured residents in Los Angeles County. We are grateful for this opportunity to improve the oral health of our community, one smile at a time.”

This is L.A. Care’s 13th round of Oral Health Initiative grants, and they exemplify the health plan’s commitment to health equity, which means everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Each of the 12 awardees in this round will receive up to $125,000 to use for additional dental staffing, expanded hours, and equipment and supplies to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. The funding will help to serve more than 11,000 new dental patients.

The 12 awardees are (areas served):

  • Central City Community Health Center (Compton, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena, Hawthorne)
  • Chinatown Service Center (Hollywood, Wilshire District, Central L.A., Glendale)
  • East Valley Community Health Center (Pomona, El Monte)
  • El Proyecto del Barrio (Van Nuys, Pacoima, West Hills, North Hills, Arleta, Sepulveda)
  • Garfield Health Center (Alhambra, Pasadena)
  • JWCH Institute (Antelope Valley)
  • L.A. Christian Health Centers (Compton, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena Hawthorne, Hollywood, Wilshire District, Central L.A., Glendale)
  • Park Tree Community Health Center (Pomona, El Monte)
  • St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (Compton, Inglewood, Watts, Gardena, Hawthorne)
  • Via Care Community Health Center (East L.A., Whittier, Highland Park)
  • Westside Regional Center (Culver City, Venice, Santa Monica, Malibu, Westchester)
  • White Memorial Community Health Center (East L.A. Whittier, Highland Park)

Since 2003, L.A. Care has awarded $16.35 million for 170 projects that provide oral health infrastructure, education, prevention and treatment services to low-income communities.