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Matching Smiles and Success: Withrow Dental Center

When the Withrow Dental Center opened, it had a waiting list of 200 Withrow University High School students.
 Dentist and student
Dr. Christi Lahey and senior Rashaun O’Neal.

When the Withrow Dental Center opened, it had a waiting list of 200 Withrow University High School students.  

These students had dental pain and decay, as well as related social and self-esteem issues. 

“I have a girl who is a senior, all six top and bottom front teeth have big cavities and holes,” said Dr. Emily Hudepohl. “She has prom coming up and graduation. I’m so glad we’re getting to her before she graduates. She’s thrilled.”

While the cosmetic factor is important to the students, the center also focuses on long-term oral health. 

“We want to get their mouths healthy and then give them the idea that you see your dentist every six months,” Dr. Hudepohl said. “A lot of kids are in so much pain, they don’t want to see us, or they’ve had bad experiences. But honestly, a lot of the kids just haven’t had anyone show them how to take care of their teeth.”

This Cincinnati Health Department dental center is the ninth to serve populations where there is a void in services. Withrow serves about 30 students a day, including those from other schools. After school hours, Medicaid-eligible and uninsured individuals from the community have appointments. Students that visit the center can make it their dental home after graduation. The bright office, tucked into a corner of the high school, is a happy place. Students pop in and out just to say hello to the staff who have worked hard to be accessible and remove fears. 

“I’m not a dentist person but when I first came here they were real nice and understood and made sure I was comfortable,” said senior Jannai Combs. “Now when I have a dentist appointment, I’m more excited to come.”

It’s also easier. For many parents, taking time off work for appointments isn’t an option. Previously, students were bussed to other centers or put on a waiting list. With the center at the school, students do not miss as much instructional time. 

Through Generous Together, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation and its donors teamed up to help make the center a reality. Three GCF funds contributed to the Withrow Dental Center through Generous Together: Philip and Sheila Cohen Fund, Alexander Moore Family Fund, and the Spanbauer Family Fund.

Flip and Sheila Cohen learned about Withrow through Generous Together, which allows donors to support an organization GCF has endorsed through grantmaking. 

“GCF provides a bridge between the donors and the causes or organizations,” Flip said. “GCF has presented funding needs to us that they believe match our areas of interest, which has also allowed us to expand our giving or be aware of some need that we would not have known about such as the Withrow Dental Center.”

“The students raved about the staff and the service they receive,” Sheila said. “They talked about more than the dental services, but that adults cared about them. They check on their teeth but also just check on how they were doing in general.” This care extends beyond the school day. It’s not unusual for staff to attend pep rallies and the sporting events of their patients. 

“My teeth feel better,” said junior Albert Kalala. “I was in a lot of pain. Now I’m feeling better. I’m not even scared.”

That’s something to smile about. 

The Greater Cincinnati Foundation invested $25,000 in 2015 in the Cincinnati Health Department for the Withrow Dental Center. Donors invested an additional $10,000 to support this work. The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, a supporting organization of GCF, granted $222,456 for oral health in 2015. 

Published in the 2015 Annual Report to the Community.

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