Duck into the concourse under Suburban Station and you’ll find more than just the usual snack stalls and shops. A nonprofit dental clinic located within the underground network provides free or reduced cost healthcare to Medicaid or uninsured patients that walk in its doors. It’s just one of many services offered by Project HOME, a Philadelphia organization serving people experiencing homelessness.
“There aren’t a lot of private practices that accept Medicaid because the reimbursement isn’t really that high,” explains Janine Musheno Burkhardt, DMD, Project HOME’s dental director and recent Temple University 30 Under 30 honoree. “Because it might be hard for somebody to find a dentist where they can actually get in for treatment, they might go for years and years without ever seeing one.”
Insufficient dental care affects homelessness in more ways than one. Intense tooth pain can push people toward opioids or other substances, Dr. Burkhardt explains. Tooth