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Dental facility aims to fill need

Halifax Regional Health Services (HRHS), in conjunction with the Southside Planning District Commission (SPDC) and the Town of South Boston, are currently working toward a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to help locate a dental clinic as an addition to the Primary Care Clinic located on Houghton Blvd. in South Boston. The dental clinic would service low to moderate-income citizens, with emphasis on children 6 and older, according to Town Manager Ted Daniel, with 80 percent of the patient base 21 years of age and younger.

Preliminary plans call for two dentists, two to four dental assistants and one hygienist to staff the clinic, with all eligible patients enrolled in Smiles for Children/Medicaid.

Uninsured patients will be seen using a flat fee for each appointment, with steps taken to reduce the rate of “no-show” patients.

Daniel said Tuesday a management team has been organized and is working toward submitting a planning grant application for $30,000 to provide funds for studies and plans for a final CDBG grant application to be submitted by March 30, 2011.

The CDBG grant application is for $700,000 to be used for construction of the clinic, according to Daniel, adding those involved with the grant process should hear by mid-July if the grant application was approved, with construction of the dental clinic from July 2011 through June 2012.

A glance at statistics presented by Daniel at a public hearing held Tuesday, show the clinic is sorely needed.

Within Halifax County, only two general dentists participate with Medicaid and Smiles for Children.  Of those, one is not accepting new patients and the other dentist has a waiting list.

Fifty-two percent of Halifax County residents under the age of 18 currently live at or below the 200 percent federal poverty level, and 33 percent of Halifax County residents 18 and older live at or above the 200 percent federal poverty level, according to statistics presented by Daniel at the public hearing.

A 2010 Community Oral Health Care Survey, taken in November at HRH ED, Halifax Primary Care, Volens Family Practice and Fuller-Roberts Pediatric revealed residents’ comments about the need of the dental clinic.

“Some older people pull their own teeth because with their income they can’t afford a dentist.  A clinic is the right thing to do,” commented a 54-year-old Halifax Primary Care patient.

A 34-year-old patient of Volens Family Practice admitted to being diabetic and must have his/her teeth cleaned every six months.

“It is almost impossible to get affordable cleaning,” that patient commented.

Members of the Halifax Dental Clinic Management Team are South Boston dentist Dr. Wayne Adams, DDS; Daniel; Deborah Gosney of the SPDC; Kathy Greco, grants administrator for HRHS; Cecil Hazelwood, operations manager for Dominion Health Group; Sylvia Briggs Judkins, community representative; and Stewart Nelson, CFO, HRHS.