For low-income elders, dental care can be very hard to find. Medicare does not include routine dental benefits and seniors living on low or fixed incomes may lack the money to pay out of pocket for care.
Untreated tooth decay causes pain and contributes to tooth loss, poor nutrition, social isolation and declining overall health. Continue reading
Daisy Lynn Torres
Several months after its seven-part Deadly Dentistry series, the Dallas Morning News is following the case of another child left dead after a dental visit.
Daisy Lynn Torres suffered complications from anesthesia while undergoing a procedure at an Austin dental office last spring, a medical examiner recently concluded. Now the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners has opened an investigation into the death of the 14-month old girl, Tom Steele reported July 15.
“Daisy went to Austin Children’s Dentistry on March 29 to have two cavities filled and was placed under general anesthesia,” Steele told readers. “A short time later she went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to a hospital where she died.” Continue reading
Organizers of free megaclinics at city stadiums and rural fairgrounds frequently describe their efforts as “Band-Aid” solutions to a much deeper problem with access to health services in many communities.
The shortage of oral health providers in poor and isolated areas is often severe, for example. The need for dental care tops the list of many of the people seeking care. Continue reading
The Journalism Center on Children & Families, formerly the Casey Journalism Center, is scheduled to close at the end of the year. Over the past 20 years, JCCF, based at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, has worked to help reporters do a better job of telling the stories of vulnerable people.
Now funding is running out, as JCCF’s director Julie Drizin explained in her announcement: “The College has concluded that this Center is not sustainable in the current economic climate.”
The center has offered grants, fellowships and other resources that have resulted in deeper coverage of health, justice and economic issues as they relate to children and families. In keeping with the center’s mission, Drizin has taught an undergraduate class at the college of journalism. Recently, she gathered a team of student reporters to cover a free two-day dental clinic sponsored by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity.
The student’s coverage of the 100-chair clinic resulted in a compelling assortment of stories that are packaged together on the JCCF website as part of the “On The Beat” feature. One of the most striking aspects of the students’ reporting is the variety of angles they managed to find while all covering the same event – angles that professional journalists might find useful.
In this Q&A for AHCJ, Drizin offers insights into how, as a teacher, she turned this free dental clinic into a window on the human condition for her class. She reflects upon the tradition of advocacy journalism. And she shares the best piece of advice she offered to her students as they headed out to cover the event.
KBIA Mid-Missouri Public Radio listeners were recently offered an insightful report on the problems poor adults in the state have been facing in getting dental care.
Nearly a decade ago, Missouri eliminated funding for all Medicaid beneficiaries except children, pregnant women and the disabled.
The move “left a lot of people with only bad options,” reporter Katie Hiler explained, borrowing a quote from the film “Argo.”
To illustrate the point, Hiler invited her audience along on a visit to a rare charity clinic called Smiles of Hope, run out of a converted church attic. At the clinic, dentist William Kane spoke of his efforts to meet the overwhelming need for services such as emergency extractions.
Hiler ended her report with some news. A decision by the Missouri legislature to restore funding for adult dental care under Medicaid is expected to help to give some poor Missourians more options, she observed.
Yet at the same time, 300,000 low-income adults who would qualify for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act are at this point shut out because of the state’s refusal to expand the program.
“Which means,” Hiler noted in closing, “Smiles of Hope isn’t going anywhere.”
In a Q&A for AHCJ, Hiler offers some thoughts on what got her started on this story and how her work unfolded. She also shares some wisdom on what it takes to make a radio story come alive.