The City of Cincinnati dedicated the Elm Street Dental Center in honor of Kyle Willis, the late nephew of famed musician Bootsy Collins and his wife Patti, during a public ceremony on Thursday.
This month marks the one year anniversary of Kyle Willis's untimely death. He was a 24-year-old single father who passed away unexpectedly as a result of an untreated dental infection when he could not afford a prescribed $27 antibiotic.
City officials have been working with the Bootsy Collins Foundation's Kyle Willis Oral Care Program to raise awareness about unmet dental needs in the Cincinnati region. As a result of this partnership, and with $250,000 in funding from Cincinnati City Council, Cincinnati dental clinics have been offering extended dental hours since April 2. The program is on track to provide 2,700 additional dental visits annually.
Collins says its good to see dental care that's accessible to people not matter what their income is. "Its like Kyle's death wasn't in vain."
The clinic has provided low or no cost dental care to people like 73 year-old Shirley-Ann Colbert who needed a new set of dentures. "I got new teeth in my mouth which basically took me 40 years to get."
Colbert says her old set of dentures wore out, but she couldn't afford to replace them until she came to the Elm Street Dental Center. "I come here because the young lady here says she could do them and they're so much cheaper for people like myself. We need this service."
"Expanding the hours of the dental clinics has proven successful in diverting patients from the emergency room, providing needed treatment, increasing service availability, and saving tax payers' money," said Dr. Noble Maseru, Cincinnati Health Commissioner. "Our resources and partnerships have allowed us to be proactive in treating the dental needs of many more patients in Cincinnati, patients just like Kyle."
"The loss of Kyle Willis reminds us of the importance of not only dental health, but access to dental care, which is why City Council funded the expansion of dental service hours at the City's dental clinics," said Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, Chair of City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.
"In honoring his memory, we are creating awareness for the hundreds of ‘Kyles' in Cincinnati, those who need access to affordable dental care," added Council Member Laure Quinlivan.
According to the Ohio Department of Health access to dental services is the leading unmet health need for children and low-income adults in Ohio. The City of Cincinnati's five Primary Care Health Centers and Crest Smile Shoppe Dental Clinic see over 10,000 dental patients, perform 24,000 dental encounters and 7,000 emergency dental visits annually.
The objective of the Bootsy Collins Foundation is to provide the greater Cincinnati underserved populations with access to oral care education, resources and to direct individuals to available dental services.