Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 21, 2018

Local dentists work pro bono with students through I-Smile program

Mar 30, 2018

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News


It’s been almost a decade that Iowa implemented a mandatory dental screening for students going into kindergarten, and the I-Smile program is ensuring students in Henry County are accounted for.

I-Smile, which is a grant with Washington County Public Health and serves Henry County, reaches out to parents whose children don’t have dental screening records to make sure they are treated. The program also coordinates dentists and dental hygienists, who volunteer to do student screenings and sealants.

In Mt. Pleasant, Dr. Matthew Wettach and Dr. Karla Maher volunteer to do most of the screenings for Henry County students for free.

“I think it’s really important to recognize doctors who are doing that,” said Buzz Bezoni, chair of the Board of Health during their meeting on Tuesday, March 27.

While the state requires students to have dental screenings, there are no consequences for those who don’t turn in paperwork saying that they have seen their dentist. “There’s nothing to be done if it’s not done,” I-Smile Coordinator Martha Hernandez said.

This year, 350 second- and third-grade students in Henry County, not including Winfield, have been screened through this program. For the students who don’t need sealants, they still get a fluoride varnish, Hernandez said.

In completing regular checkups for Henry County students through the I-Smile program, 420 students had no problems, 59 required dental care and eight required urgent dental care.

I-Smile wants to expand their program to include seventh-grade in the fluoride varnish, but right now it’s on hold because of lack of staffing and grant funding.

In other news, in a letter to the Board of Health, Leichty & Son Construction requested that the county consider implementing a policy requiring each contractor to attend continuing education classes and be certified before installing any wastewater treatment systems.

Kurt Leichty, of Leichty & Sons, wrote that his employees keep up with classes and certifications to install and inspect sewer systems and spend a lot of money in doing so. “It would be nice to see the county make a level playing field with contractors on requirements for training,” Leichty wrote. “It would not only be fair to contractors, but also for homeowners who are receiving the service.”

Bruce Hudson, with RUSS, said that counties typically consider certification requirements on a county to county basis. He said there are two sides to this argument: the county knows the work being done is up to code; however, contractors might be eliminated through this regulation, which could drive up bids.

“The pros are enormous,” Hudson said. “The only down side I see is the possibility of eliminating contractors. I think the letter is absolutely right though. The county should be looking toward making sure people are certified.”

Currently, contractors are not required for installing wastewater systems. Homeowners can even install them on their own with education and inspections by RUSS.

The Board of Health will continue to discuss the issue in future meetings.

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