Pilot Program Will Increase Access to Affordable Care for U.S. Veterans

VETSmile and Veterans Oral Care Access Resource (VOCARE) logos

New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement its new initiative, Veterans Oral Care Access Resource (VOCARE), as part of VA’s VETSmile pilot program.

VETSmile/VOCARE began July 1 in partnership with the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, and seeks to provide comprehensive dental services to Veterans in the New York City area who are not eligible to receive those services through the VA.  

“We are very excited and incredibly fortunate to collaborate with dental care providers who are passionate about comprehensive dental services and quality care for Veterans,” said Roshni Ghosh, Veterans Health Administration Center for Care and Payment Innovation Acting Executive Director. “VETSmile is an opportunity for us to bridge the gap in Veterans’ access to continuous, accessible, and affordable oral care, which is crucial for their overall well-being.”

Through this program, the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System—which includes campuses in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island—will refer eligible Veterans to NYU for dental services. NYU Dentistry expects to provide 5,000 Veteran patient visits in the first year of VOCARE, with a goal of providing between 6,000 and 7,500 patient visits in future years. Veteran enrollment in the program will be based on referrals received from the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System.

“Increasing access to comprehensive, timely, holistic dental care is critical for achieving health equity, especially for populations like our Veterans that face barriers to receiving care,” said Charles N. Bertolami, the Herman Robert Fox Dean of NYU Dentistry.

Michael O’Connor, executive vice dean of NYU Dentistry and director of the VETSmile/VOCARE project, added, “Our aim with VETSmile/VOCARE is to provide Veterans with a ‘dental home’ in an effort to improve their overall health and quality of life and reduce the need for emergency dental care in hospitals.”

“VA New York Harbor’s mission is to provide world-class care to our nation’s heroes,” said Martina Parauda, the director of VA New York Harbor Healthcare System. “We are proud to partner with the New York University College of Dentistry to expand that mandate by ensuring all Veterans have access to quality dental care.”

The Federal Register Notice of Intent for the Community Provider Collaborations for Veterans Pilot Program notes that VA provides dental services on an annual basis to about eight percent of the Veterans who are enrolled in the VA health care system. The VETSmile/VOCARE pilot program will address this gap by enhancing Veterans’ access to comprehensive quality treatment at NYU College of Dentistry in Manhattan and at NYU Dentistry Brooklyn Patient Care.

VETSmile/VOCARE will accommodate Veteran patients with disabilities or a history of post-traumatic stress disorder at its specialized clinic, the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities, where the staff are trained with special skillsets to ensure quality treatment and holistic care. Additionally, VETSmile/VOCARE will focus on integrating an oral health educational component for Veterans to encourage adoption of oral hygiene practices into their daily lives.

About NYU College of Dentistry
Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYU Dentistry) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating nearly 10 percent of all dentists. NYU Dentistry has a significant global reach with a highly diverse student body. Visit dental.nyu.edu  for more.

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