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Community Spotlight: Rural Health Receives $300,000 Grant to Increase Health Care Access


BRADENTON – Manatee County Rural Health Services Inc. (MCRHS) received a $300,000 IMPACT program grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation (BCBSF Foundation). The three-year grant will be used to support the purchase of a mobile dental unit equipped to provide full-service oral healthcare, including dental exams, preventative care and restorative services to children at schools, public housing complexes and migrant housing and farm locations in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto Counties.

“This grant will enable MCRHS to bring to fruition a long-held goal to provide dental care to children in our community who are underserved and uninsured, and who may not have opportunities to visit a dentist,” said MCRHS President and CEO Walter “Mickey” Presha. “Low income children in Florida suffer twice the oral decay and are twice as likely to go without dental care as children who are not poor. Tooth decay, if left untreated can lead to permanent tooth loss, more serious illnesses and infections. We are eternally grateful to theBCBSF Foundation for making it possible for us to fulfill this critical need in our community, for their vision and their ongoing commitment to improving the health of children and families in Florida.”

MCRHS was one of only 15 organizations out of 318 that applied that was awarded one of the IMPACT grants.

“With these investments, we’re targeting our resources to the communities that need them most,” said Susan Towler, vice president of the BCBSF Foundation. “This demonstrates our commitment to help people and communities in Florida achieve better health.”

The MCRHS mobile unit will include a bilingual staff including a dentist, a hygienist, two dental assistants and one hygienist assistant who will take their services directly to children in communities throughout Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

IMPACT program grants are strategically awarded to diverse, philanthropic, community-based solutions that improve program capacity and reduce barriers to access; promote collaboration, foster innovation and sustain quality; and leverage financial, human and other resources to maximize measurable impact. Grants funded through the IMPACT program increase access to quality, health-related services for the people of Florida, especially those who are uninsured and underserved.

MCRHS’ mission is to deliver the highest quality primary and specialty care and preventative health education to anyone who needs our services, regardless of their ability to pay. MCRHS is the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the southeastern United States, based on the number of patients and patient visits. In fiscal 2011, MCRHS’ providers saw 88,800 patients, accounting for a total of 429,734 patient visits, and provided services to nearly 70 percent of all residents in our service areas that live at or below the Federal Poverty Level. MCRHS has received accreditation from the Joint Commission, the national accrediting organization for healthcare providers, for 14 consecutive years.


The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation is a separate, philanthropic affiliate of Florida Blue, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan for Floridians, incorporated in the state of Florida. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, and its parent, Florida Blue, are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Foundation, please visit its website at www.bluefoundationfl.com. The website for Manatee County Rural Health Services can be viewed here.


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