Mercer County Community College (MCCC) and KinderSmile will partner to bring free dental care and oral health to underserved communities in New Jersey’s Capital City.
KinderSmile, based in Bloomfield, NJ, provides dental care and education on the importance of dental hygiene to economically-disadvantaged children and their families. The organization will move into MCCC’s new Health and Wellness Education Center at 101 North Broad Street in Trenton at the college’s James Kerney Campus.
Since KinderSmile’s founding in 2007 more than 15,000 children in four New Jersey counties have received free oral health education and care.
“We are a firm believer in the philosophy that the best way to lift up a community is one person, one child at a time,” said Dr. Jianping Wang, MCCC president. “As a key partner of Mercer’s new Health and Wellness Education Center, KinderSmile will play a major role in making a real difference in lives throughout the greater Trenton region.”
Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, DDS, founder, president, and CEO of KinderSmile, said the organization’s mission is “to provide underserved children with access to comprehensive dental care” and to “educate children and their families about the importance of dental hygiene.” The organization’s efforts in Essex, Union, and Passaic counties, as well as in seven developing nations, presented a natural expansion into Mercer County’s Trenton area. “We know that there’s a dire need for access to dental care in Trenton,” said McGrath-Barnes.
With the goal of providing comprehensive access to dental care in the Trenton area, KinderSmile will offer a variety of community programs including a mobile dental clinic that will serve patients at the sites of partner organizations from nonprofits to schools to healthcare institutions. The mobile clinic will offer oral health education programs as well as diagnostic and preventative services.
McGrath-Barnes said the organization plans to begin mobile visits in February, and expects to open the clinic at 101 North Broad in late spring. The office in the MCCC Health and Wellness Education Center will have 13 chairs and provide comprehensive services for patients who are uninsured and underserved, and will include weekend and evening hours.
“There will be a plethora of programs to increase oral care access and education and we will link those children back to our dental home (in Trenton),” McGrath-Barnes said. “We accept all patients, both children and adults, but our main focus is on children. We’re in the community and for the community in terms of access to care. We want this to be a hub where everyone can have access to quality care.”
In addition to KinderSmile, the MCCC Health and Wellness Education Center will serve as home to the state headquarters of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey, and will offer certification classes in the health professions. MCCC will host a ribbon cutting and open house later this year.