Mobile clinic benefits local children

Published 1:01 am Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dr. Mary Marshall of Elizabeth City begins an assessment of a John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School student taking inventory of her teeth. (Contributed Photo/Beaufort County Schools)

A team of nurses with Beaufort County Schools has partnered with a national organization to help care for students across the county. The SMILES Mobile Dental Clinic is making its first stop in Beaufort County this week at John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School in Washington.
According to the Smile Program website, “the mobile dentists are innovative, on-site, school-based, dental outreach providers. Their mission is to bring state-of-the-art dental care to those students in need in the most comfortable and effective way possible.”
For Janet Rowe, BCS School Nurse serving John Cotten Tayloe and John Small Elementary schools, this free service can be a game changer for many students.    “Proper dental care is an essential part of a child’s overall health, which is necessary for a child’s optimum achievement in the classroom.” Rowe said.
Rowe is one of five nurses on the school system staff who know that in today’s economic climate, you cannot put a price tag on a service such as the Smiles Program.
“Parents with transportation challenges or those without jobs and insurance don’t have to figure out a way to meet these needs for their children thanks to this opportunity,” Rowe explained.
This service for students also impacts their academic achievement, as well as their physical well-being.
“As far as education, kids won’t miss school with toothaches and headaches and attendance will be better,” according to Rowe.
Physical health and dental health go hand-in-hand.
“Good foods like apples need good teeth,” Rowe said.
Smiles made one stop in Beaufort County at the end of last school year, and the nurses are thrilled to help bring them back on a more widespread basis this year. See the schedule below for dates in other schools.
• John Cotton Tayloe Elementary – Sept. 14-16
• John Small Elementary – Sept. 21-23
• P.S. Jones Middle – Oct. 10
• Bath Elementary – Oct. 18
• Northeast Elementary – Oct. 21-22
• S.W. Snowden Elementary – Sept. 28
• Chocowinity Primary – Feb. 23
• Chocowinity Middle – Feb. 21
• Eastern Elementary – Nov. 30, Dec. 1-2
The Smile Programs utilizes locally licensed dentists and hygienists, employing the latest technology in portable equipment, to provide all services directly at schools. The national office is based in Michigan with offices throughout the country. North Carolina’s home base is in Charlotte. The team serving John Cotten Tayloe Elementary School was comprised of Dr. Mary Marshall of Elizabeth City; Melanie Box, a hygienist from Bath and Anna Pollard, a hygienist from Washington.
Pollard, who joined the program a year ago, clearly explained her love of serving children in this capacity.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had.”

Authored by Sarah Hodges, Beaufort County Schools