News From The Colleges
New Special Patient Needs Program Offers Increased Access to Care

Dr. Miriam Robbins

NYUCD will expand services to people with developmental disabilities, complex medical problems, and other significant physical limitations with the opening in September 2010 of a new, seven-chair Special Patient Needs pilot program under the direction of Dr. Miriam R. Robbins, Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology, Radiology & Medicine.

The new program represents a significant expansion of the space dedicated to special-needs patients, who were previously treated in a two-chair facility.

"With the opening of this new facility," Dr. Robbins said, "we will have 70 weekly appointment slots available for special-needs patients, who traditionally have very limited access to dental care, as well as additional appointment times for other patients requiring oral mucosal disease and orofacial pain treatment."

The program is mandatory for all fourth-year students, who must also complete a series of didactic courses designed to provide them with the skills needed to treat special needs patients and to counsel these patients on overcoming barriers to maintaining good oral health. "Because special needs patients have difficulty with routine oral hygiene," Dr. Robbins explained, "they are at a high risk for gingivitis, periodontitis, and dental caries."

Dr. Robbins is partnering with the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disability and with United Cerebral Palsy and other nonprofit organizations to identify patients who qualify for the new program's services.