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The following article was published in THEPILOT.COM

Posted on 02/22/05

FirstHealth Dental Center Receives $177,300 Grant

State House Speaker Pro Tem Richard Morgan recently announced a $177,300 grant to improve the quality of dental care in Moore County for disadvantaged children.

The grant is intended to increase by 50 percent the number of patients who can visit the Southern Pines facility each year.

The FirstHealth Dental Care Center in Southern Pines, established to provide care to low-income children up to age 18, serves a target population of nearly 18,000 children in Moore, Montgomery and Hoke counties who are medically indigent or are on public assistance. In Moore County, 7,800 children qualify as medically indigent.

Operated by FirstHealth since 1998, the Southern Pines facility is one of three full-time centers serving medically indigent children. FirstHealth also operates facilities in Troy and Refold.

The grant from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services will meet needs at the Southern Pines facility. Since their inception, the Dental Care Centers have served over 11,000 patients.

“Thanks to FirstHealth’s strong community partnerships and hard-working dental professionals such as Dr. Sharon Nicholson Harrell, Moore County is providing care to the kids who need it most in the Sandhills,” Morgan said. “But our target audience exceeds the current facilities. This grant will greatly increase the number of children who can be served by the Southern Pines facility.”

“We are very excited to expand the Southern Pines clinic and purchase the new equipment, said Harrell, who is director of FirstHealth Dental Care Centers. Speaker Pro Tem Morgan’s grant will allow us to serve even more disadvantaged children in this area and allow for a high use of technology. We truly appreciate Speaker Pro Tem Morgan’s generosity and understanding of the importance of dental health in our children.

About $164,300 of the grant will be dedicated to the expansion of the Southern Pines facility to add two additional treatment rooms and a consultation room to allow medical staff to meet with parents and patients to discuss treatment.

The remainder of the money will purchase dental equipment, including a Prophy Jet Cavitron Combo Machine, a Statim Sterilizer and three Slow Speed Handpieces.

The center has served more than 12,000 children since opening the first office in Southern Pines in October 1998.

The majority of patients are between the ages of 6 and 12 (55 percent). About 25 percent are between birth and age 5, 13 percent are between 13 and 15, and 7 percent are between 16 and 18.

Forty-four percent of the patients are black, 36 percent white, 13 percent are Hispanic (the majority of which are in Troy office), 4 percent are Native-American, and 1 percent are Asian or other.

FirstHealth of the Carolinas is a private, nonprofit health-care network headquartered in Pinehurst, serving 15 counties in the central Carolinas.

The FirstHealth medical services include three hospitals, a skilled nursing facility, centers for inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, a hospice program, community outreach programs, centers for health and fitness, primary care practices, EMS and critical care transport services, a non-profit HMO, a philanthropic foundation and a host of other services.

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