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Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Center

The Rose F. Kennedy University (RFK) Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities dental program provides:


  • clinical dental services to patients with developmental disabilities, 

  • training in special care dentistry to postgraduate dental residents and fellows

  • outreach to patients and caregivers in promoting oral health maintenance procedures and practices.  


The dental program is an integral service and training component of the broader Kennedy Center, which serves as a tertiary referral center for children with genetic and developmental anomalies. The dental clinic has approximately 5,100 patient encounters per year.

Resident training:

One special care dental fellow and approximately 45 residents rotate through RFK each year (includes pediatric dentistry and general practice residents from affiliated programs). Our dental anesthesiology residents and our attending dentist anesthesiologists are the sole providers of comprehensive anesthesia services for the dental patients treated in the Rose F Kennedy Center for Special Patient Care.

Rose F Kennedy Center History:

In the early part of the twentieth century, people with developmental disabilities received health services in large public institutions. As time progressed, there were few resources available for people with developmental disabilities to access healthcare in general and dental care in particular.

In 1965, to help alleviate the shortage of practitioners willing and able to care for developmentally disabled patients, Dr. Harold Diner began providing dental treatment to children with developmental disabilities as part of the general dental program at the Bronx Municipal Hospital Center (BMHC, now Jacobi Medical Center).

In 1970, the Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Human Development of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine opened on the grounds of BMHC. Dr. Diner was given the opportunity to open a dental clinic for special needs children and begin a new pediatric dentistry residency program at the center. This program would incorporate a significant component of training and care for the population of special needs patients. 

Patients travel from as far as New England, Pennsylvania, and upstate New York for this unique service. Additionally, the clinic's close relationship with Jacobi Medical Center permits easy referral for treatment in the operating room when appropriate.

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