University News

University Receives Grant to Support Dental Hygiene Education and Increase Access to Quality Care

The recipient of a $70,000 grant from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority, the University is purchasing state-of-the-art dental equipment that will provide important hands-on learning opportunities for students while increasing access to critical dental care for local underserved populations.

January 12, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Prof. Marie Paulis (center) and dental hygiene students at the University.
Prof. Marie Paulis (center) and dental hygiene students at the University.

Marie Paulis, RDH, MSDH takes great pride in the important impact the University’s Dental Hygiene Program has – both on students and on the local community. That impact was recently recognized by a Connecticut organization that provides nonprofit financing, as the University was awarded a grant that will support its ongoing work.

The recipient of $70,000 in grant funding from the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority (CHEFA), the University will use the award to benefit both dental hygiene students and the patients they help treat.

“As the Dental Hygiene Program Director, I could not be prouder of the services our faculty and students provide to the local community on a daily basis,” said Prof. Paulis. “This funding enables us to reach a broader community of patients who otherwise would likely not receive this high-quality care, and it provides excellent learning experiences for students. I am grateful to CHEFA for recognizing that the University of New Haven’s Dental Hygiene Program aligns with their mission.”

‘Opportunity for quality care’

Specifically, the University will use the funding to purchase state-of-the-art dental equipment, including an instrument sterilizer, an oral cancer detection system, and intraoral cameras. This support is especially crucial following the pandemic, says Prof. Paulis, since many more people avoided receiving dental – and medical – care than they did before 2020. She expects the implications and consequences of that postponement of dental care to become increasingly clear in the coming years.

The funding will help ensure high-quality dental care for those in the local community – many of whom might not otherwise have access to such care. The new equipment will enhance the ability of students, faculty, and staff to provide that critical care. That’s something Karl Minges, Ph.D., MPH, co-investigator of the grant, is particularly excited about.

“The University of New Haven Dental Clinic predominantly serves a low-income patient population, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured, and who are of high medical acuity,” said Dr. Minges, chair of the Department of Population Health and Leadership. “This funding for capital expenses will vastly enhance the equipment technological needs of the clinic that are offered in many dental facilities and are considered the standard of care. Underserved patients should be offered the same opportunity for quality care as those seeking care in private dental offices.”

‘More comprehensive and time-efficient care’

In an effort to support recruitment, retention, and diversification initiatives throughout Connecticut, CHEFA has committed more than $1 million to support the state’s healthcare workforce and to increase access to STEM learning. The grant aims to help increase access to necessary dental hygiene care and treatment for underserved populations.

“These recent grant commitments not only demonstrate the invaluable role CHEFA plays by providing philanthropic support to residents throughout Connecticut, but they also demonstrate the widespread impact CHEFA programming has in driving economic and social mobility for Connecticut residents on a statewide basis,” said Jeanette W. Weldon, executive director for CHEFA.

Prof. Paulis hopes the award will not only create hands-on learning opportunities for students, but that it will also have a ripple effect, benefitting the state’s workforce, while also increasing access to dental care.

“It will provide invaluable learning experiences to students since it is enabling them to utilize the latest technologies and helping them to be competitive in today's job market,” explains Prof. Paulis. “From the patient perspective, this advanced equipment will improve treatment outcomes and enable the facility to provide then with more comprehensive and time-efficient care.”

The University will use the grant to purchase state-of-the-art dental equipment.
The University will use the grant to purchase state-of-the-art dental equipment.