NYU Dentistry and the VA Launch Dental Program for Veterans
On Monday, November 8, NYU College of Dentistry, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, celebrated the official launch of a new program to increase Veterans’ access to dental care. The program, called VOCARE (Veterans Oral Care Access Resource), is part of the VA’s VETSmile pilot program.
With only 8 percent of Veterans eligible for dental benefits through the VA, VOCARE and VETSmile aim to close the gap in affordable care for Veterans. Through this new effort, which began in July, healthcare providers at the VA New York Healthcare System refer Veterans who are not eligible for dental care through the VA to NYU College of Dentistry for their care.
Speakers at Monday’s event included Andrew Hamilton, President of NYU; Dean Charles Bertolami; Roshni Ghosh, Executive Director of the Veterans Health Administration Center for Care and Payment Innovation; Michael O’Connor, Executive Vice Dean of NYU Dentistry and Director of the VOCARE/VETSmile program; Martina Parauda, Director of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, and, via video, a Veteran receiving dental care at NYU through VOCARE.
“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 Dr. Ghosh. “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.”
“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 Dean Bertolami.
Executive Vice Dean O’Connor 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.”
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.