OHF was born through the merging of two pilot projects: The Chicago Oral Health Network and the Chicago Oral Health Providers’ Project. The Chicago Oral Health Network worked to build a Chicago-based coalition of stakeholders to combine and share resources, and follow the public health model of assessment, policy development, and assurance. The Provider’s Project aimed to develop a model of sharing best practices and communication amongst the dental directors of FQHCs in the Chicago area, which had not been previously accomplished.
In July 2008, both projects were merged to create one larger, more efficient and coordinated approach – as a program of Heartland Health Outreach (HHO) – to improve oral health for all. Being housed in HHO was a natural fit with their mission to improve the health of people who lack access to health care by providing culturally competent, multidisciplinary services that prevent illness and improve physical, mental, and social well-being, and by advocating for human rights, including the right to health care. HHO’s continuum of primary care, oral health care, and behavioral health care services, allows OHF an additional opportunity to overcome the divide in segregated health services.