UT Dentists is investing in the future one small smile at a time by expanding dental care at Harris County Resources for Children and Adults

UTHealth Houston pediatric dentists are now part of the Integrated Health Clinic, a program of Harris County Resources for Children and Adults, by providing comprehensive medical, dental, and behavioral health care for children in Harris County who are involved or under the care of Child Protective Services. 

The clinic, which already includes faculty physicians from McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston’s pediatric general and psychiatry practices, will now offer dental services including evaluations, dental cleanings, X-rays, extractions, sealants, and fillings.

“It is not very common that a dentist, psychiatrist, and pediatrician can actively converse in real time about a shared patient. That is integrated health and it’s powerful,” said Lawrence Thompson, Jr., PhD, director of Integrated Health Services at Harris County Resources for Children and Adults.

Recognized as a Foster Care Center of Excellence by Superior HealthPlan, the clinic is dedicated to improving the health of children from birth to 18 years old who are in the foster care program, making it easier for them to receive care at a single center.

“Caring for kids is the apex of the program. There is so much more opportunity to learn where the need is, and help as we knit these specialties together. It’s exciting and makes this facility special,” said Greg Olson, DDS, MS, professor and chair of pediatric dentistry and the Catherine M. Flaitz, DDS, Professor in Pediatric Dentistry at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry.

Founded in 1972, the Integrated Health Clinic provides compassionate care including prevention and early intervention services for children through various accessible programs in collaboration with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, the Texas Department of Family and Protective services, and Superior HealthPlan.

“The children who come to the clinic don’t have much stability or control in their lives; and the doctors who see them here are often the most consistent adults they have in their lives,” Thompson said.

New visits at the youth clinic involve three full-day exam screenings conducted by medical providers to ensure children’s health history is updated through a state-required child and adolescent needs assessment.

“The children here are resilient and it is amazing to see how they have blossomed from the first visit to after a month of care. They smile more and become much more interactive,” said Kim Cheung, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at McGovern Medical School and medical director of the Integrated Health Clinic.

Soon-to-be providers who are currently students at McGovern Medical School and other schools rotate within the clinic to gain a better understanding of community-based care.

“Professionals have the opportunity to learn from each other while caring for the kids,” Olson said. “Additionally, opportunities abound for collaborative research to understand the overall impact and best practices of models like this.”

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