Funds to provide dental care for patients of craniofacial clinic
(July 11, 2003)
A clinic's efforts to make a dramatic difference in the lives of children with craniofacial abnormalities and cleft palates will be supported by a grant from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
The Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Clinic of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina has received a two-year, $107,000 grant from the trust. The funds will be used to provide an administrative director to coordinate multidisciplinary care and expand the partnership between the medical school and private dentists in Greenville.
The grant will permit pediatric dentists Jasper Lewis and Lee Lewis to see children one day each month at the Eastern Carolina Family Practice Center Dental Clinic and will support the purchase of needed dental and orthodontic equipment to treat the children.
"It's essential that we have secured this grant to maintain the viability of the craniofacial clinic," said Dr. Will Meadows, a plastic surgeon at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and medical director of the clinic.
"Our long-term problem has been dental coverage for these children," he said. "This grant will allow us, through the kindness of Jasper and Lee Lewis who see these patients free of charge, to provide the care by using the grant money to purchase the dental equipment to provide needed treatment."
Craniofacial and cleft palate abnormalities occur in the early weeks of fetal development when the right and left sides of the lip and roof of the mouth are growing together. In about one in 800 babies, the sections don't quite meet. A child with a separation in his lip is said to have a cleft lip; a similar separation in the mouth is called a cleft palate. Craniofacial birth defects can vary but usually involve an abnormally shaped skull or facial structures. Together, they are the fourth most common birth defect in the United States.
The clinic team is made up of professionals in 14 disciplines. A child born with craniofacial or cleft palate abnormalities may require surgery, dental and orthodontic care, and speech therapy, which must be provided in a coordinated manner over several years.
The clinic serves 225 patients from the 29-county UHS service area with 138 patients in active treatment. In 2002, the clinic saw 43 new patients, up from 25 in 1998.
The grant was acquired through a partnership between the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Medical Foundation of ECU.
"It's very nice to see that this clinic is valued outside of the people who provide and receive the care. We have this clinic because we love helping these children and their families, and to see it valued outside of our small clinic is very fulfilling," Meadows said.
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was created in 1947 by the will of Mrs. William Neal Reynolds of Winston-Salem. Three-fourths of the trust's grants are designated for use for health-related programs and services across North Carolina. One-fourth are designated for the poor and needy of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.