Richmond elementary school to offer free health clinic, dental care

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Coronado Elementary School in Richmond is opening a free clinic and dental office on campus to help treat low-income students. (KGO-TV)

As schools get started next week in Richmond, students at one elementary school will soon be reading, writing and visiting the dentist on campus.

It's one of two schools in West Contra Costa County offering free dental work for low-income students and one of the few schools in the nation to offer a free clinic.

Deyanira Ibarra was registering her son Mathew at Coronado Elementary School in Richmond. She says having a dental clinic in the school is a huge advantage. "Very important, sometimes we work a lot so sometimes we don't have the time to go," she said.

Other families don't have the resources. "Low-income working parents, mostly immigrant populations, no dental insurance," Dan Tanita, D.D.S., said.

Tanita will head the clinic, which will consist of dentists who volunteer their services. "Somebody has an emergency and a tooth ache or something, we can see them right away," he said.

The school will also offer a free health clinic. School officials say it will keep students from missing classes. "So they won't miss time out of school to go to appointments. They would have it right at the school," Coronado Elementary School principal Linda Cohen said.

It's a victory for a school that nearly closed five years ago due to budget cuts, but the city of Richmond was able to save it. "The school district was able to partner with the Richmond City Council to find the extra funds to keep the school open," school board member Madeline Kronenberg said.

A few months later, voters passed a $380 million bond measure to repair and rebuild their schools and Coronado Elementary School was one of them. "Our school was falling apart," Heidi Garcia said.

Garcia is a teacher who fought to keep the school open. "You walk down these hallways and every room is engaged, so now it's going to be even better," she said.

Ibarra and others now see Coronado Elementary School as the heart of this neighborhood.

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educationdentistchildrenback to schoolschoolchildren's healthhealthhealth careRichmond
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