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Teledentistry Clinics will open in Woodlake, Lindsay and Cutler-Orosi in Tulare County

Childrens Hospital Los Angeles eHealth program expands with the Grand Opening of three preventive dental clinics on school campuses

CONTACT: Steve Rutledge at (323) 361-4121

LOS ANGELES -- Childrens Hospital Los Angeles’ eHealth program will expand with the Grand Opening of three fully functional preventive dental clinics on school campuses in the rural communities of Woodlake, Lindsay and Cutler-Orosi in Tulare County, on Friday, March 9, 2007, according to Jose C. Polido, DDS, M.S., head of the Division of Dentistry at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

State and local dignitaries expected to attend the Grand Opening ceremonies will include United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Ben Higgins; California State Assemblyman Bill Maze; 21st Congressional District Director Justin Stoner, representing Congressman Devin Nunes; Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak; Steve Tietjen, Superintendent, Woodlake Elementary and High School Districts; Frank Murphy, Superintendent, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School Districts; and Superintendent of the Lindsay Unified School District Janet Kliegl.

“Each of these clinics is equipped with state-of-the-art general dental operatory systems, including digital intra-oral imaging and X-ray equipment,” said Dr. Polido, an assistant professor at clinical dentistry at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

“In addition, each of the clinics is equipped with a videoconferencing unit to facilitate telehealth consultation with faculty dentists at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the USC School of Dentistry,” said Dr. Polido. A patient management application system has been deployed in the dental clinic at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and this application is fully accessible, via virtual private network, from each of the three remote clinics.

An Orthophos digital panoramic X-ray unit has been deployed at the Woodlake clinic to support the efforts of the eHealth program to broaden its diagnosing and remote consultation capabilities, which is a major step toward detailed orthodontic and craniofacial diagnosis.

Having developed close collaborative relationships with IT network leadership at the Tulare County Office of Education in Visalia, video and data exchange utilizes the existing K-12 High Speed Network, an element of the CENIC system linking public schools throughout California, at no cost to the program.

A locally based, Spanish-speaking registered dental hygienist (RDH) has been employed by Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, and now rotates through these clinics in the delivery of preventive services to school children, under the general supervision of USC faculty dentists based at Childrens Hospital. Administration and management of the RDH take place remotely via the telehealth systems.

The three clinics were designed in cooperation with architects from Sullivan-Schein Dental, and constructed with the assistance of grants to the school districts from the USDA Rural Development.

The completion of the clinics represents the successful culmination of the implementation phase of the eHealth program. Through a collaborative process between Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the USC School of Dentistry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health Resources and Services Administration, the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center (CTEC) and The California Endowment, the three school districts and others, the program has been brought to the point where provision of remotely supervised preventive oral health services and dental health education for K-12 children and their families can be facilitated.

“USDA Rural Development is proud to support not just the economic health or rural communities, but the health and well-being of rural residents,” said Mr. Higgins. “Our collaborative efforts with CTEC, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and Tulare County, communities are providing much-needed dental care for thousands of children.” Community Programs faculty at the USC School of Dentistry, together with eHealth program staff, have devised comprehensive screening protocols and electronic recording systems in order to document oral health status among migrant students in these three communities. Screening findings also will be used to identify children with most urgent needs for eHealth program consultation, assessment and preventive treatment.

Referral for restorative treatment will be facilitated by eHealth program staff and school district support personnel. In the first round of screenings, undertaken in October 2006, parental consent return for these screenings averaged well over 90-percent in all districts.

Since the start of the 2006-07 school year, and in very close collaboration with school district leadership, more than 700 children have been successfully screened in these districts.

“We anticipate the entire K-12 migrant student population will be screened through this program by summer, 2007,” said Dr. Polido, “which presents extraordinary and unique opportunities for systematic and formal research to be undertaken in an effort to truly understand oral health status and needs of rurally located, underserved pediatric populations.”

The eHealth Program is now ready to undertake additional unique opportunities in the realm of remote delivery of continuing education programs to rural health care providers and the expansion of consulting services by other dental and medical sub-specialties.

Founded in 1901, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has been treating the most seriously ill and injured children in Los Angeles for more than a century, and it is acknowledged throughout the United States and around the world for its leadership in pediatric and adolescent health. Childrens Hospital is one of America’s premier teaching hospitals, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California for more than 75 years. It is a national leader in pediatric research.

Since 1990, U.S.News & World Report and its panel of board-certified pediatricians have named Childrens Hospital Los Angeles one of the top pediatric facilities in the nation. Child magazine also has ranked Childrens Hospital Los Angeles among the top children’s hospitals in America.

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