SEATTLE, April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Plans for an innovative new dental clinic to serve the area's low-income and uninsured patients will soon be a reality following an unprecedented $2 million gift from Delta Dental of Washington.
The clinic, which will also serve as a teaching dental center, will be located in the Pacific Tower and managed by Neighborcare Health in partnership with Delta Dental of Washington, Seattle Central College and Seattle Vocational Institute.
The Dental Education Clinic, located in Seattle Central's Health Education Center at Pacific Tower, is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, with a dual role of serving low-income Medicaid and uninsured patients on a sliding fee scale, as well as training dental hygiene and dental assisting students. The facility – planned to open in June 2016 – will offer full preventive services including annual exams, cleanings and fluoride treatments, along with emergency dental care and full restorative services such as dental fillings, crowns, root canals and bridges.
"This donation and partnership are an example of how Delta Dental of Washington is living its mission to revolutionize the oral health industry and improve overall health," says Delta Dental of Washington President and CEO, Jim Dwyer. "Delta Dental's gift and the new dental clinic will have a powerful impact improving lives and strengthening the care available to those in need, while creating a larger pool of trained and educated people entering the dental field."
Access to dental care remains a significant issue across the state as it is across the country. Individuals on Medicaid are challenged to find dental care, and those without any coverage have fewer options. According to county records, 331 percent of residents 18 years and older living in King County had no dental visits in the past year. The number of people living on Beacon Hill – where the clinic will be located – who didn't visit a dentist last year, was nearly 40 percent.
The 20-chair dental clinic – including two infant/toddler exam rooms – is expected to provide 19,000 visits for 6,300 patients per year. It will also train 40-60 dental hygiene students and 40-60 dental assistant students each quarter.
The facility at Pacific Tower will be a hub for collaborative new programs for non-profit organizations serving low-income and underserved communities. Through Neighborcare Health's multicultural staff, the clinic will accommodate patients in more than 40 languages and dialects.
"We're thrilled to be at the forefront of delivering new care models," says Sarah Vander Beek, DMD, chief dental officer of Neighborcare Health. "We share Delta Dental's commitment to increase access to care for those in need."
"There is a growing demand for highly-trained health care workers," says Jill Wakefield, chancellor of Seattle Colleges. "By providing opportunities for students to learn through observation, guided practice on patients, and direct instruction from clinic professionals, we expect our students to be among the region's best."
The Seattle/King County Workforce Development Council projects the overall health care sector in King County to grow 2.1 percent annually, producing 24,000 jobs by 2020. The Dental Education Clinic at Pacific Tower will help satisfy the need for dental care workers and make education and dental services more accessible.
Additional funding for the Dental Education Clinic at Pacific Tower is provided by Seattle-King County Dental Society Foundation, Norcliffe Foundation, State of Washington, and from New Markets Tax Credits.
About Delta Dental of Washington
Delta Dental of Washington serves employer groups and individuals, offering comprehensive, preventive based dental benefits that impact overall health and wellness in-state and nationwide. Our commitment to oral health is rooted deeply in our mission. We work with lawmakers in Olympia to advocate for better oral health policies and our foundation supports innovative approaches and practical solutions to improve oral and overall health across the state with a focus on prevention, early intervention and expanding access to care for seniors and children.
About Neighborcare Health
Neighborcare Health is Seattle's largest provider of primary medical and dental care for low-income and uninsured individuals and families. It provides care to more than 55,000 patients through 28 clinics throughout Seattle. For more information, visit www.neighborcare.org.
About Seattle Central's Health Education Center
Seattle Central's Health Education Center is a satellite campus located in the historic Pacific Tower. Comprising 85,000 square feet on five floors of the tower, the Center includes classrooms, medical and computer labs, a library and offices. It contains the latest medical equipment that is being used to train the next generation of health care workers. For more information, visit http://wp.seattlecentral.edu/pacific-tower/
About Seattle Vocational Institute
Seattle Vocational Institute provides citizens with workplace competencies that lead to in-demand, sustainable employment and livable wages. We ensure opportunities for academic achievement through workplace preparation, lifelong learning and basic skills and literacy education. SVI offers short-term, hands-on training programs, especially for underserved and under-represented individuals, by creating professional-technical programs and learning environments that are accessible, diverse, responsive and innovative.
"We are thrilled to see this critical investment in more options for those in our community in need of dental care. Our own needs assessment of the Market community confirms that access to dental care remains a pervasive problem for low-income individuals and families. Seattle can do better, and this is a huge leap in the right direction."
- Lillian Sherman, Executive Director, The Pike Place Market Foundation
"The Dental Education Clinic is precisely the kind of innovation I imagined when I advocated for keeping the Pacific Tower true to its long history. I believe that education and health care are cornerstones to a thriving community. This partnership will serve multiple needs in our state and Seattle by addressing the growing demand for highly-trained dental professionals and improving access to dental care for low-income individuals whose options for oral health care have long been limited."
- Rep. Frank Chopp, 43rd District
"Regular, preventive care is the best way to ensure good oral health. We're excited that this new clinic will increase access to quality dental care for the underserved while also training the future dental workforce. We applaud the partnership that is working to make the Dental Education Clinic at Pacific Tower a reality."
- Bracken Killpack, Executive Director, Washington State Dental Association
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SOURCE Delta Dental of Washington