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June 27, 2008

Senators recommend $400,000 for ULM's mobile dental unit

The University of Louisiana at Monroe might be $400,000 closer to providing a mobile dental unit to the economically depressed communities in northeast Louisiana.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which included $400,000 toward ULM's proposed mobile dental unit. The money will be secured once the full Senate passes the bill.

This bus, which would be staffed by a dentist, dental assistant, dental hygienists and ULM dental hygienist students, would benefit those patients who lack the financial resources and transportation to obtain proper dental care.

College of Health Sciences Dean Dr. Denny Ryman thanked U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, U.S. Sen. David Vitter, the Senate, and Monroe Chamber of Commerce President Sue Nicholson for their support of the project. "All of us at ULM sincerely appreciate our supporters who are helping us improve healthcare in our community."

Ryman said that Louisiana's oral health, specifically in children, is in a "state of crisis." A low percentage of Medicaid children receive dental services, he said.

"I am excited by the potential to reach the many underserved areas in our region, where access to dental care is restricted. Going directly to those areas where services are needed the most is the only way many segments of our population will get the care and treatment they need. Proper oral health is viewed by most in the medical community as the absolute foundation for maintaining good overall health," he said.

The total cost of the actual unit is approximately $750,000, and the annual operating cost is $150,000.

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