Two minority-led Michigan dental health providers have been selected to receive a custom mobile dental clinic through the Motor City Kares initiative – a $500,000 initiative aimed at uplifting minority businesses and bringing high-quality, mobile oral health care services to communities and residents in Southwest Detroit.
Hygiene on Wheels, Inc. and My Community Dental Centers will each receive a custom Ford Transit van converted into a mobile dental office later this year. The mobile units will be equipped with technology – including digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, tele-dentistry capabilities, and more – that allow the businesses to provide preventative dental care, emergency procedures, and dental hygiene education to insured, uninsured, and underinsured patients alike.
Over the course of a two-year agreement, both businesses will be required to spend at least 50% of their mobile unit’s time in operation serving residents in Southwest Detroit's Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods. After successfully operating the mobile units for two years and building a stable mobile dental practice, the business and mobile clinic is theirs to keep.
Hygiene on Wheels
With over 30 years of clinical experience, registered dental hygienist Deanna Alexander understands difficulties associated with access to oral healthcare. In 2008, she began her community outreach program, Hygiene on Wheels, with the mission of providing oral hygiene education and dental care to underserved populations. The resources she is receiving through the Motor City Kares initiative will allow Alexander to serve even more people in need of care – including children and the elderly and senior populations.
My Community Dental Centers
Established in 2006 and founded on the strength of community partnerships and a commitment to provide exceptional patient-centered care, My Community Dental Center (MCDC) is a state-wide nonprofit dental service organization. With 34 locations across the state, MCDC provides comprehensive dental care for all – including patients enrolled in Medicaid, Healthy Kids Dental, Healthy Michigan Plan, private, or commercial insurances and those who are uninsured.
Improving Public Health, Building Community Wealth
There are multiple barriers that limit or prevent people from receiving dental care in urban areas like Corktown and Mexicantown, including financial constraints, the inability to take time off work or school, access to reliable transportation, or even long-held beliefs of distrust or fear of the dentist. Bringing care to individuals at their home or in their community can open doors for beneficial conversations and relationship-building with dental professionals in a more convenient and user-friendly way.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship reports though minorities makeup 32% of the population, minority business ownership represents only 18% of the population. In the field of dentistry specifically, data from the Health Policy Institute indicates Black and Hispanic dentists are significantly underrepresented in the profession, accounting for less than 4% and 6%, respectively, of the dentist workforce in the United States.
Motor City Kares
A collaboration between Delta Dental of Michigan, Ford Motor Company Fund, and Kare Mobile, with support from Lightship Foundation, the Motor City Kares initiative is designed to provide access to high-quality dental care in some of Detroit’s most underserved communities, while also helping minority-led dental providers build a mobility-focused oral health business.
“The Motor City Kares initiative allows us to combine Ford’s expertise in transportation with Ford Fund’s commitment to strengthening communities,” said Mary Culler, president, Ford Motor Company Fund.
Delta Dental purchased the Ford Transits and Ford Fund provided the equipment required to upfit the vans into mobile dental offices. Kare Mobile is performing the vehicle upgrades, providing a two-year operating license for each business, and offering management and administrative services and support.
Earlier this month, representatives from Hygiene on Wheels and MCDC attended a business incubator bootcamp that provided resources around legal, product, sales, marketing, and investment readiness. The bootcamp, offered by Lightship Foundation – the first inclusion-focused entrepreneur advancement program in the Midwest – was designed to help prepare and train the dental providers on how to operate and sustain their new mobility-focused oral health care business.
My Community Dental Centers and Hygiene on Wheels plan to officially launch their mobile dental clinics in early 2022.