New Mexico State University (NMSU)- Doña Ana Community College (DACC) announced that the NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program received a $15,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) through its Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative. The NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program’s commitment to improving the oral health of children and families in southern New Mexico aligns with the vision of BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant program to help improve the health of children and their families in local communities.
Despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program and the NMSU-DACC Dental Hygiene Program are opened a new satellite clinic at the DACC Gadsden campus in Oct. 2020. The clinic provides dental hygiene services to DACC students as well as pregnant women and children from the neighboring communities of Anthony, Chaparral and Sunland Park in the southern part of Doña Ana County. Students of the NMSU-DACC Dental Hygiene Program will be providing most of the services at the DACC Gadsden campus under faculty supervision.
“Our students are very well prepared to provide an array of dental hygiene services to communities in need,” said Elmer Gonzalez, director of the NMSU-DACC Dental Hygiene Program. “Our focus is to give our students ample experiences in dental public health and to encourage them to work with at risk communities once they graduate and become licensed professionals. These experiences also provide students with enhanced clinical skills and a better view of oral health disparities in New Mexico as they help patients obtain and maintain optimum oral health.”
“We are proud to support the NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program, which will expand access to much needed oral health services to children and families in Doña Ana County,” said Janice Torrez, incoming BCBSNM president. “Access to these critical services provided by the NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program and NMSU-DACC Dental Hygiene Program is vital to improving health and wellness in some of our most vulnerable southern New Mexico communities.”
Healthy Kids, Healthy Families is a signature program of BCBSNM. The initiative focuses on engaging children and their families in understanding the importance of nutritious food, raising the level of physical activity, better managing chronic conditions and promoting safe environments. Likewise, the NMSU Foundation-Happy Smiles program works to engage children and families in understanding the importance of optimum, healthy oral health habits, nutrition as it is related to oral health, and promoting the importance oral health has on overall health.