The Southeast Ohio Dental Clinic re-opened its doors in February following a short period of closure with the retirement of its dentist and lack of funding. Since February, a new dentist was hired, policies were changed, and more patients are being seen. From the re-opening in February through the end of July the clinic has served 1,273 patients in 2,151 visits. These changes have led the clinic to a place in which it has now outgrown its facility on Gilman Avenue.
Fortunately, the dental clinic has been offered the opportunity to move to a new location at 123 Third St., Marietta. This building, owned by Dr. Bret Frye, previously housed his offices and more recently, was occupied by Family Tree Dental. Because the building is already set up for a dental clinic, we hope the move will go smoothly and that we can begin seeing patients on Sept. 6 at the new location. The location is also more visible and hopefully more accessible to the public. Additional parking and waiting room space is a big advantage of this new clinic.
In order for this move to take place, the clinic had to find the necessary funding to make the move. Dental equipment must be disconnected from the current location and reconnected and calibrated before it can be used. Also, with two additional rooms for patients to be seen, additional equipment must be purchased. Through a grant received from the Marietta Foundation, this move can now be realized. The monies received will pay for the move and the purchase of some equipment necessary to accompany the donation of two additional dental chairs (from Drs. Bret and John Frye).
The Washington County Health Department, manager of the dental clinic, is thankful for the support of the Marietta Community Foundation and the individual funds which support the grant received. We especially would like to thank a number of funds managed through the foundation which made this clinic expansion possible. These include the J. Francis and Lillian Strecker Smith Fund, Karl D. & Anna Schultheis Marsch Fund, Broughton-Sugden Fund, F. Buchanon, J.H. McCoy, H. Switzer & Mildren Fund, Betty Markell Hallock Memorial Fund, Ida P. Zimmer Memorial Fund, Barb & Jack Moberg Charitable Fund, Juhola Family Charitable Fund, Charles Hobbs Rhodes & Beulah Lee Rhodes Memorial Fund, Tony Popp Memorial Fund, and the Rutter Family Charitable Fund.
Our work in moving the clinic is only starting. We have more equipment to purchase and more expenses to manage before we can truly experience the success of the move. We do hope to expand services and increase the number of patients we will now be able to accommodate. Future plans will include additional staff and possible expansion of hours of the clinic. We also hope to reserve one afternoon a week for walk-in patients who may be seen for emergencies without an appointment.
Only time will tell how much we can grow in providing access to those individuals who require dental care and have not been able to receive the care they need. Our policies, for now will remain the same. At this time, we are not providing dentures, either full or partial. We do accept Ohio Medicaid and will see patients who do not have insurance on a sliding fee scale. Currently, a minimum fee has been set at $30. Patients who miss two appointments within a year's time and do not provide 24 hour notice of cancellation will not be seen. This is done not to punish the patients but to help with rescheduling of those patients who may be on a waiting list and to keep the dentist and hygienist busy.
The clinic will be closed the week of Aug. 29 so that we can proceed with this move. Any patient already scheduled for that week will be contacted and given a new appointment at the new location.
Kathleen Meckstroth is executive director of the Washington County Health Department, 342 Muskingum Drive, Marietta.