SAN ANTONIO - The City of San Antonio and the Metropolitan Health District have joined together to award $500,000 to benefit a dental hygiene program at Palo Alto College.
- Pending accreditation approval, the two-year program is expected to launch in Fall 2021
- Palo Alto College students will train in a state-of-the-art clinic
- The new space will also serve as a community clinic with fees on a sliding fee scale
District 4 City Councilman Rey Saldaña announced the award would be included in the 2019 budget on Wednesday.
Pending accreditation approval, the two-year program is expected to launch in fall 2021 and will offer an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene.
“This support from the City of San Antonio is vital because dental hygiene affects every person in our community, regardless of location, age, or income,” Dr. Robert Garza, president of Palo Alto College, said.
Palo Alto College students will train in a state-of-the-art clinic and provide educational and clinical services to better the overall health of the south side community.
Upon completion of the program, students must complete state licensing exams to become licensed dental hygienists. Additionally, students interested in pursuing a further degree will have the option to transfer to UT Health San Antonio’s School of Dentistry to the complete the Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene, and, ultimately, a Master of Dental Science in Dental Hygiene.
“As a pillar in south San Antonio, it is our responsibility to offer degree programs that will not only provide our students with marketable and employable skills, but also expand beyond the classroom to impact the daily lives of our community,” Garza added.
The new space will also serve as a community clinic with fees on a sliding fee scale based on a patient’s ability to pay for services, not to exceed 25 percent of the cost of the same services at traditional dental clinics. The American Dental Association reported 25 percent of limited-income adults self-reported their mouth and teeth are in poor condition, largely in part due to limited access to affordable dental care.
“The dental hygiene program will undoubtedly transform the educational aspirations and quality of life for our residents. Future generations will remember this as another critical example of the importance of investing in people and the sustainability of communities,” Saldaña said.
Through the funding provided by the City, Palo Alto College will serve up to 1,000 uninsured or under-insured limited-income children and adults annually with significant risk for oral health issues.