Free oral screenings can save lives

Seniors from St. Patrick’s Community Center visited the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery residency at the Edwin L. Granite, D.M.D., Clinic at Wilmington Hospital. The May screening event provided potentially life-saving, free oral cancer screenings, as well as patient information and gift bags filled with oral health supplies.

Christiana Care Social Worker Linda Brennan-Jones, BALS, BS, greeted patients arriving for oral cancer screenings from St. Patrick’s Senior Center at Wilmington Hospital.

To connect oral health to overall health, many of the seniors who participated in the screenings are also patients in the primary care practices at The Rocco A. Abessinio Family Wilmington Health Center at Wilmington Hospital.

Christiana Care is a long-time health partner for the seniors, homeless people and families who come daily to St. Patrick’s, providing assistance from social workers four days a week, at the center on Wilmington’s East Side, and offering other social and medical support services throughout the year.

Lynn Czech, BSN, RN, RN-BC, reviewed results and provided patient education immediately after their oral cancer screenings.

Lynn Czech, BSN, RN, RN-BC, performed follow-up with the seniors immediately after the oral cancer screenings. She reviewed all of the screening forms to ensure that anyone with potential needs was made aware of the findings and she helped arrange for follow-up appointments and other necessary interventions. Further, she introduced the seniors to the entirety of services available from the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery & Hospital Dentistry at Wilmington Hospital.

“Early detection is the single most important predictive factor in favorable outcomes for oral and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers, yet only 14% of U.S. adults report ever having an oral cancer examination during past year,” said Etern S. Park, M.D., D.D.S., associate program director of the Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery residency program.

Most oral cancers are preventable by modifying behaviors, including avoidance of all tobacco and excessive alcohol use, he said.

With partnerships like the one between Social Work and St. Pat’s, “we have the potential to save lives and prevent suffering from oral cancer by enhancing participation in health screenings and removing obstacles to care,” said Park.

“The staff at St. Patrick’s were instrumental in registering the seniors for the screening event, transportation to the hospital and ensuring follow-up care,” said Linda Brennan Jones, BALS, BS.  “It’s joint ventures with our community partners like St. Patrick’s that helps make our community healthier.”