Oral Health – ORBIT Collaborative

A first year Fones Dental Hygiene student provides free care to a child from St. Mark's Day Care in Bridgeport, as part of Give Kids A Smile 2011.

The ORBIT Collaborative, created in September 1999, works to increase access to quality and affordable dental health care services for underserved and vulnerable populations in the Bridgeport and Stratford, CT communities.  Facilitated by Southwestern AHEC and funded by the Connecticut Health Foundation since 2002, ORBIT’s members include:

  • Optimus Health Care
  • Southwest Community Health Center
  • Fones School of Dental Hygiene at the University of Bridgeport
  • Bridgeport Department of Health & Social Services
  • Stratford Health Department
  • Connecticut Dental Health Partnership
  • The Bridgeport Dental Association (BDA)
  • Action for Bridgeport Community Development (ABCD) Head Start Program
  • CT Oral Health Initiative
  • Bridgeport School Nurses

Significant Achievements:

  • Engaged local dental providers in the ADA’s national Give Kids A Smile Day (GKAS) since 2007, resulting in more than 1,000 uninsured children receiving free dental care valued at more than $445,000.
  • Actively supported statewide efforts to secure increased reimbursement for HUSKY dental providers and to develop an Oral Health Improvement Plan for 2007-2012.
  • Increased the number of Preventive and Treatment (Restorative) visits provided to children aged 0-18 in targeted urban areas by 356% from 2002-2007.
  • Reduced the percentage of ‘No Show’ appointment rates in the two participating Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • Implemented a Dental Sealant Program in Bridgeport’s public schools.
  • Implemented a 1st and 3rd grade dental screening program in the Stratford public schools.
  • Delivered Customer Service training program to the ORBIT agencies’ dental teams.

Program Goals:

  • Engage local dentists in providing pro bono services and contracting as HUSKY providers.
  • Deliver community-wide oral health promotion programming.
  • Support care coordination to ensure that children secure primary & specialty dental services.
  • Secure public and private support to ensure ORBIT’s financial sustainability.

Southwestern AHEC Executive Director Meredith Ferraro cuts the cake at ORBIT’s “Galaxy of Stars” celebration in May 2010, with a young Give Kids A Smile recipient looking on.