There are serious barriers to dental care access for adults who have low incomes and medically complex needs, leaving our most poor and vulnerable community members at significant risk. These people have very limited options and cannot seek dental care until a medical crises occurs—and they often end up in the Providence St. Peter Hospital Emergency Center. A number of patients arrive at the Emergency Center with acute pain and infections requiring extensive hospital stays that could have been avoided with preventative dental care in an outpatient setting.
To address this most important community need, a new dental residency program was the featured Fund-a-Need at the 2017 Christmas Forest. “The dental residency program will help the most vulnerable in our community. This service is another great example of our Mission in action,” says Medrice Coluccio, Southwest WA service area chief executive.
The dental residency program will provide a seven-chair clinic offering primary and comprehensive care, serving the poor and vulnerable adult populations. Composed of five dentists, three dental residents and two attending dentists, this clinic will provide dental care, as well as on-call services 24/7, 365 days per year, for the St. Peter Hospital Emergency Center and inpatient unit.
With funding from several sources, including private philanthropy, the dental residency program is scheduled to start treating patients sometime in 2019 on the campus of St. Peter Hospital.