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NSU Dental Program Receives Statewide Award

Smiles Across Miami Earns $20,000 Grant at Florida Blue Sapphire Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Patrick J. Geraghty, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Florida Blue, presents a Sapphire Award to Ana Karina Mascarenhas, B.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., associate dean of research of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine, for the Smiles Across Miami program.

Patrick J. Geraghty, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Florida Blue, presents a Sapphire Award to Ana Karina Mascarenhas, B.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., associate dean of research of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine, for the Smiles Across Miami program.

FORT LAUDERDALE/DAVIE, Fla. – Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Dental Medicine’s Smiles Across Miami program was named a Sapphire Awards recipient and earned a $20,000 grant for its efforts to bring quality oral health services to underserved and primarily uninsured school children in Miami-Dade County.

The awards, presented by the Florida Blue Foundation and totaling $350,000, honor outstanding work by individuals, programs and nonprofit organizations in community health care, or health care-related fields, distinguished by leadership, innovation and achievements in community health. The honorees in each category were announced at the conclusion of the two-day Sapphire Symposium held in April in Orlando, Florida that featured community health experts from around the state and country.

“The goal of Smiles Across Miami is to identify oral diseases early and improve access to vitally needed oral health care for Miami-Dade school children most at risk in order to reduce health disparities and improve health and social equity in our community,” said Ana Karina Mascarenhas, B.D.S., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., associate dean of research of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine, who oversees the program.

Smiles Across Miami addresses the disparity in oral health through a two-pronged approach:

  1. Early screening, prevention and improved access to quality oral health care
  2. Training medical staff/providers in 145 Miami-Dade schools to screen for oral diseases and provide oral health counseling, refer children needing further treatment to a dentist, and providing technical assistance and monitoring.

“By starting preventive care, treatment and education at an early stage, we can provide the basis for children to maintain good oral health and overall healthy habits for their entire lifetime,” said Linda Niessen, D.M.D., M.P.H., M.P.P., dean of NSU’s College of Dental Medicine.

During the 2014-15 program year, the program reached 857 children. Successes included an 18 percent reduction in restorative treatment needed, a 41 percent reduction in the number of extractions performed, and 72 percent of the children did not require any additional treatment beyond preventive care. The program also trained 210 medical staff from Miami-Dade to provide oral health screening, counseling, fluoride varnish applications and refer to a dentist. This has the potential to impact 35,000 children.

Since 2005, Florida Blue Foundation has presented 73 Sapphire Awards, totaling more than $3.75 million, to 15 individuals and 58 programs and organizations from across Florida. Thus year’s honorees were selected from among 112 nominees. An independent panel of experts with state and national expertise in community health best practices selected the honorees in each category.

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About Florida Blue Foundation: Florida Blue Foundation is a trade name of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, Inc. Florida Blue Foundation is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, Florida’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield company. The Foundation and its parent are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.floridabluefoundation.com.

About Nova Southeastern University (NSU): Located in beautiful Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Nova Southeastern University (NSU) is a dynamic research institution dedicated to providing high-quality educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and first-professional degree levels. A private, not-for-profit institution with more than 26,000 students, NSU has campuses in Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Miami, Miramar, Orlando, Palm Beach, and Tampa, Florida, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, while maintaining a presence online globally. For more than 50 years, NSU has been awarding degrees in a wide range of fields, while fostering groundbreaking research and an impactful commitment to community. Classified as a research university with “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, NSU is 1 of only 50 universities nationwide to also be awarded Carnegie’s Community Engagement Classification, and is also the largest private, not-for-profit institution in the United States that meets the U.S. Department of Education’s criteria as a Hispanic-serving Institution. Please visit www.nova.edu for more information about NSU and realizingpotential.nova.edu for more information on the largest fundraising campaign in NSU history.

Contact information:

Jeremy Katzman, M.B.A., APR | Office of Public Relations
954-262-1535 (office)
954-661-7000 (cell)
j.katzman@nova.edu