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Delta Dental of Tennessee Donates $325,000 to Children's Hospitals


 
Pictured from left to right: Kix Brooks, country music artist, Arrington Vineyards co-owner and chair of Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt Advisory Board; Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, President of Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbi

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental)'s charitable arm, the Smile180 Foundation, today announced more than $325,000 in collective donations to the state's seven children's hospitals as part of Delta Dental's ongoing COVID-19 response initiative, Operation #SmilesMatter. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, children's hospitals suspended elective care, stockpiled supplies, and developed contingency surge plans to support their adult counterparts. Months later, even as some elective procedures have resumed, philanthropic support is still vital.

"While adult hospitals have heroically cared for COVID-19 patients, we can't forget about our children's hospitals, who are coping with lost revenue, cancelled fundraising events and limited access to federal relief," said Dr. Phil Wenk, CEO and president of Delta Dental of Tennessee. "We hope that this support allows our children's hospital partners to amplify their fundraising efforts during this unprecedented and difficult time for so many."

While COVID-19-related hospitalizations among children are rare, pediatric COVID-19 cases rose 90 percent between early July and early August across the country, according to new data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association, which also found that Tennessee has the fourth-highest cumulative number of pediatric cases. At the same time, the hospitals children rely on are also experiencing the financial pain of the pandemic. According to the Children's Hospital Association, revenues are down 40%, and individual children's hospitals are losing $1 million in revenue each day. And because Medicaid is the primary payer to children's hospitals, many have been left out of federal relief payments tied to Medicare claims.

"We are so grateful for the leadership and support of our longtime partners at Delta Dental of Tennessee," said Meg Rush, MD, MMHC, president of Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. "Now more than ever, community support and partnerships are critical to allowing us to provide essential care for children and their families from across the region."

Many children's hospitals are nonprofit organizations and rely heavily on fundraising events to further their missions. With a large number of these events cancelled due to the pandemic, donations from the community have been crucial during this time. For example, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt has had to cancel one of its biggest fundraisers of the year, the Rascal Flatts Celebrity Golf Classic, originally slated for October. These community events contribute millions of dollars to children's hospitals each year.

The Smile180 Foundation supports Tennessee's dental colleges, children's hospitals, free and reduced-cost dental clinics, and other like-minded charities. Since its founding in 2014, the Smile180 Foundation has contributed $3 million to support Tennessee's children's hospitals, including more than $500,000 in 2020.

Today's announcement furthers Delta Dental's ongoing commitment to supporting communities across the state and health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following months of COVID-related closures, Delta Dental pledged more than $3.3 million to fund a $1,000 credit for all Tennessee dentists to use to acquire needed supplies as they prepared to safely reopen their practices. Additionally, Delta Dental donated $1.1 million to Tennessee safety-net dental clinics and has supported statewide COVID-19 relief efforts through Second Harvest Food Bank and the Salvation Army.

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