ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — Thanks to its partnership with a nonprofit called Neighborhood Health, Alexandria City Public Schools is helping low-income kids visit the dentist while on school property.
It’s called the WoW bus, or Wellness on Wheels. Since 2019 it’s served over 1,000 children and made over 2,000 visits to 10 schools. The bus parks outside and is available to children in need of anything from a routine cleaning to an extraction. Sometimes its dentists will make so-called “portable visits” if the school doesn’t have the electrical capability to support the bus’s power.
“They can apply for lower cost services — basically a third or less price of private practice and they can get most of the services that they can find in a private practice or in a hospital,” said dentist Kyu Kim.
Insurance isn’t necessary and the visit doesn’t cost a penny. At Mount Vernon Community School, Principal Liza Burrell says the PTA pays the bill.
“Our school nurse actually plays a critical role in making those appointments and advocating for the kids; calling their families and making sure that they know what the WoW bus does for the kids, so it’s truly a partnership between the school and health services,” said Burrell.
Neighborhood Health has 12 clinics in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax County. In 2018, about 52 percent of its patients were below the poverty level.