‘Karing’ for Detroit

Two minority-led Michigan dental health providers have been selected to each receive a custom mobile dental clinic through Motor City Kares – a collaboration between Delta Dental, Ford Motor Company Fund and Kare Mobile aimed at uplifting minority businesses and bringing high-quality, mobile oral health care services to communities and residents in southwest Detroit.

The combined $500,000 investment is providing two minority entrepreneurs each with a custom Ford Transit van converted into a mobile dental office.

Deanna Alexander, owner of Hygiene on Wheels, and Dr. Deborah Brown, CEO of My Community Dental Centers, also participated in a business incubator bootcamp to refine and finalize their business plans ahead of official launch of their mobile dental clinics in early 2022.

The bootcamp, offered by Lightship Foundation – the first inclusion-focused entrepreneur advancement program in the Midwest – was designed to help prepare and train the dental providers on how to operate and sustain their new mobility-focused oral health care business.

From left to right: Hardik Bhagat, Kyle Norman, Deborah Brown, Curtis Swogger, Deanna Alexander and Kwane Watson.

I was already providing service with a small portable unit, but this opportunity is allowing me to grow my business, establish even more of a presence in the community and, ultimately, serve and help even more people. Mobile dentistry is the future and this van is going to be the best thing ever for me.

—Deanna Alexander, owner of Hygiene on Wheels

The mobile units are equipped with digital X-rays, intraoral cameras, teledentistry capabilities and more features that will allow these businesses to provide preventive dental care, emergency procedures and dental hygiene education to insured, uninsured and underinsured patients alike.

During a two-year agreement, both businesses will be required to spend at least 50 percent of their mobile unit’s time in operation serving residents in southwest Detroit’s Corktown and Mexicantown neighborhoods. After successfully operating the mobile units for two years and building a stable mobile dental practice, the business and mobile unit are theirs to keep.

Working in Detroit, we have witnessed first-hand challenges and struggles related to poverty, unemployment, and health disparities. Reliable transportation is one of the most common barriers for patients. These challenges are heightened for persons with lower incomes or for those enrolled in Medicaid. According to recent American Community Survey data, approximately 41 percent of the population in Corktown and Mexicantown are enrolled in Medicaid alone or a combination. We are so pleased to be a part of this partnership providing a mobile solution to improve access to dental care within these two communities – delivering one smile at a time.

—Dr. Deborah Brown, CEO of My Community Dental Centers