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January 12, 2023

UNH gets grant to expand dental care 

The University of New Haven will share a $220,000 grant with Stamford Hospital and the Norwalk Hospital Association to expand a dental hygiene program to support underserved populations across the state.

The grant comes from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA). 

The money will go toward implementing a community health worker program, increasing access to dental hygiene treatments for underserved people, and supporting career opportunities for individuals who might otherwise face barriers to employment, according to Betsy Francis-Connolly, dean of UNH’s School of Health Sciences. 

“We are grateful for the support of CHEFA and for their investment in a program that we believe will have an important impact on individuals seeking services and care to enhance their health and those pursuing careers in this important field,” Francis-Connolly said. 

UNH’s $70,000 portion of the grant will enable the university to purchase some new “state-of-the-art” dental equipment that will provide hands-on opportunities for UNH’s dental students and increase access to critical dental care for their patients, UNH officials said.

UNH Professor Marie Paulis, dental hygiene program director, said, “This funding enables us to reach a broader community of patients who otherwise would likely not receive this high-quality care, and it provides excellent learning experiences for students.”

The grant will fund an instrument sterilizer, an oral cancer detection system and intra-oral cameras, Paulis said.

“This support is especially crucial following the pandemic, since many more people avoided receiving dental – and medical – care than they did before 2020,” she added.

Paulis hopes the grant will not only create hands-on learning opportunities for students, but will also have a ripple effect, benefiting the state’s workforce while also increasing access to dental care.

“It will provide invaluable learning experiences to students since it is enabling them to utilize the latest technologies and helping them to be competitive in today's job market,” Paulis said. “From the patient perspective, this advanced equipment will improve treatment outcomes and enable the facility to provide them with more comprehensive and time-efficient care.”

UNH was one of several nonprofits and educational institutions recently selected to receive grants, along with Saint Francis Hospital, Quinebaug Valley Community College and Capital Community College and the University of Bridgeport.

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