Nearly a year ago, NCOHC launched a COVID-19 oral health access map. As dental offices transitioned to only offer emergency services — and while health professionals worked to figure out how to best ensure provider and patient safety — our staff wanted to make sure that those who needed care weren’t left without any idea where to go.
There were several reasons why NCOHC hoped to highlight facilities offering emergency care across North Carolina. First and foremost, tooth decay and gum disease aren’t going to wait for the pandemic to subside. And, as anyone who has ever suffered from a toothache knows, when you have an oral emergency, you want it taken care of fast.
We also know that so many people with dental emergencies seek care at their local hospitals, which often are not equipped to handle that type of care. Even in a non-pandemic world, it is important to divert these patients to facilities that can address their concerns, rather than offer temporary solutions. Especially during a pandemic, however, reducing demand on hospital staff wherever possible is absolutely critical.
Our staff decided that a centralized map would be helpful to anyone who needed care, but didn’t know where to go. We thought a map would be a good resource, but we certainly didn’t think that more than 31,000 people would have viewed it nearly one year later.
But it makes sense. There wasn’t any centralized resource to use to find a provider near you—especially if you need to find affordable options that accept Medicaid or offer care on sliding fee scales.
Now that most offices are open for routine care again, NCOHC has decided to make the Access Map a permanent resource, displaying useful information beyond operating status. If you navigate to the map, you can see hours of operation, service type (kids and adults), and more.
Additionally, in the coming months, NCOHC staff will be updating the map with more information, such as the availability of translation resources.
What do you want to see on the NCOHC Access Map? We are looking for feedback as we continue to develop this resource. Take a moment and fill out our survey with any suggestions you have.
Looking for other ways to get involved? Head over to NC4Change today!