Health Care Access Initiative
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton has two ongoing initiatives focused on improving access, continuity, and the quality of healthcare to families in our service area. The Stark County Prescription Assistance Network and the Bethlehem Project for Oral Health are described below:

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton convened the Stark Prescription Assistance Network (SPAN) in February 2001 to examine prescription assistance needs, community resources, and collaborative strategies to address service gaps. SPAN is comprised of representatives of local foundations and health and human service organizations, including the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Austin-Bailey Health and Wellness Foundation, Health Foundation of Greater Massillon, Community Services of Stark County, Mercy Medical Center, Catholic Charities, United Way of Greater Stark County, Canton Community Clinic, Good Samaritan Clinic, and the Western Stark Medical Clinic. Since 2001, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton has supported the planning, start-up, and ongoing operating expenses of SPAN.

The Stark Prescription Assistance Network (SPAN) represents an innovative approach to meeting the prescription medication needs of the uninsured and underinsured in Stark County.

The network structure strives to:
  • Integrate services provided by hospitals, free clinics, and human service agencies; Improve linkages between existing services;
  • Establish a centralized outpatient pharmacy;
  • Improve access, continuity, and quality of care, and expand pharmaceutical company patient assistance program outstations; and
  • Provide a more efficient and effective service delivery system that will realize cost savings to the community.

There are three key service components that SPAN is working to address:

  1. The establishment of a Centralized Outpatient Pharmacy;
  2. A significant expansion of the Pharmaceutical Company Patient Assistance Programs; and
  3. A significant expansion of the Network's voucher program.

The Stark Prescription Assistance Network is committed to establishing a community initiative dedicated to:

  • Meeting the medication needs of the uninsured, underinsured, and underserved residents of Stark County, Ohio by creating and maintaining a coordinated, formalized network of care;
  • Enhancing access to prescription medications;
  • Educating physicians and consumers;
  • Improving quality and continuity of care;
  • Building community awareness; and
  • Recruiting and training volunteers.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation's Board and Staff remain steadfast in their determination to improve health care access to individuals in Stark County and across the state.

The Bethlehem Project
The Bethlehem Project for Oral Health

In 2002, in response to the identification by local stakeholders of access to care as the key oral health issue confronting our community, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton established the Bethlehem Project for Oral Health, an integrated system of oral health care delivery designed to be sensitive to the needs of both dental care providers and patients. 

The Bethlehem Project was designed to:

  • Increase access to dental care services, especially for the low-income and at-risk population, through the development of a dental clinic at Mercy Medical Center;
  • Enhance the skills of new dentists and give them exposure to and experience in providing care to diverse populations by establishing a General Practice Residency in Dentistry program within the newly created dental clinic;
  • Create a formal channel for involvement in and support of state-level policy work; 
  • Partner with private practice dentists in the community to provide no-cost dental treatment to Bethlehem Project participants; and
  • Provide oral health education and coordinate dental care of participating families, in order to improve their oral health behaviors


The Bethlehem Project works with SPARK Ohio (SPARK SUPPORTING PARTNERSHIPS TO ASSURE READY KIDSTM) kindergarten readiness program to provide oral health information and dental care to families in need.

SPARK Ohio home visitors, known as parent partners, educate at-risk families by influencing their oral health perceptions and behaviors. The parent partners use a training manual modeled after the Help Me Smile curriculum during monthly in-home education sessions. The home visitor-family relationship influences positive changes in oral health behavior, including establishing a dental home and consistently practicing healthy oral routines. 

The Bethlehem Project teaches participating families about:

  • The behaviors that promote good oral health
  • Good nutrition
  • How to establish and maintain a dental home
  • The implication of being their child’s first and best oral health teacher

The success of the Bethlehem Project lies in its partnerships with over 22 private practice dentists and two safety net dental clinics. Through these relationships, treatment valued at over $170,000 has been donated or discounted to over 700 Bethlehem Project participants. 

“Overwhelming positive, I’ve met fantastic individuals running the project as well as the patients…They’ve shown great appreciation.  Some have been walking around in pain for a couple of years we get them treatment and some have said afterwards that they’ve never felt so good and are giving us hugs afterwards.”  - A Bethlehem dentist

The Sisters of Charity Foundation's Board of Directors and Staff remain steadfast in their determination to improve health care access to individuals in Stark County and across the state.

Sisters of Charity