Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic
This month Ohio Dental Clinics is profiling beautiful Washington County which rests on the very southeastern edge of Ohio bordering the Ohio River and West Virginia. This is the heart of Appalachia where multi-generational families live and local jobs offer low-wage services, generating a large population of uninsured/underinsured “working poor.” High poverty and poor health walk hand in hand, especially concerning oral diseases. Most adults are edentulous by their mid-20’s and early childhood caries is rampant among the very young. Despite many drawbacks, there are a few dedicated safety nets in southern Ohio committed to caring for the most vulnerable populations. The Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic is one such story of desire and tenacity focused on improving the residents’ oral health.
The Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic began offering dental services to Washington and surrounding counties in 1998 through the vision of Dr. Leroy Ash, a local dentist from Marietta, who saw the need for low cost oral health services in this area of Ohio. Managed by the Washington-Morgan Community Action Program, the dental clinic operated for 7 years, closing its doors in 2005. After a year without dental services, the Washington County Health Department committed to re-open the clinic by successfully receiving grants from the Ohio Department of Health and the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Foundation. On October 1, 2006, the clinic once again opened its doors to serve the residents of southeast Ohio.
The office on Gilman Drive in Marietta was small, approximately 700 square feet, consisting of three operatories, a tiny office and a reception area which seated four people. Due to the limited physical size of the clinic, the number of patients receiving care was also limited. Additionally, the clinic struggled financially to keep the doors open and in late 2010 the Board of Health ceased operations of the dental clinic due to lack of funding. Undeterred, the Health Commissioner launched an all-out effort to re-open the clinic. A new dentist was hired and several meetings were held with the Board of Health to discuss what changes could be made to re-open the clinic while striving for fiscal solvency. So once again, the clinic resumed operations on February 7, 2011, with new policies in place to increase the number of patient encounters, enforce a strict broken appointment policy and eliminate prosthetic cases.
Today the clinic has moved to a former private dental office bolstered by grant funds from the Ohio Department of Health, the Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Fund and the Marietta Memorial Foundation. This office is fully equipped with five treatment rooms, a large waiting room and adequate parking in a more visible and accessible location in downtown Marietta. Staff includes a full-time dentist, one dental assistant, and two other staff members who serve as both front office and dental assistants as needed. The clinic offers preventive, restorative and emergency care. Currently the dental clinic accepts Ohio Medicaid and offers a sliding fee scale for Ohio residents who meet low-income eligibility. There is a minimum fee of $30 for all others.
The Southeastern Ohio Dental Clinic is located at 123 Third Street in Marietta. Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, call 740.374.6242, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the health department website at http://www.washco-ohhealth.org/144.
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