Instead of the ED, a dentist chair

July 31, 2013
Providence has made a unique investment to improve dental health in Clackamas County by donating space for the Joseph Bernard Jr. Dental Clinic, which opened at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in July.

Access to dental care has become a key concern for policymakers and health care providers in recent years. More than 1,600 dental patients visit Providence Milwaukie’s Emergency Department each year, primarily for pain and abscesses. Nearly 45 percent of these patients – most of whom have Medicaid or are uninsured – return for emergency treatments.

It’s 10 times more costly to treat dental problems in the ED than in a dentist’s office.

The new dental clinic is expected to serve more than 250 patients a month. Besides restoring teeth, the clinic will emphasize prevention and education with the help of dental hygiene students from Pacific University.

The clinic is operated by Neighborhood Health Center, a federally qualified provider of medical, mental health, dental and other health services for low-income and uninsured patients.

The Joseph Bernard Jr. Dental Clinic was named for a longtime hospital foundation board member who died in 2012. The Milwaukie Rotary Foundation donated more than $10,000 to the development of the clinic in honor of Bernard’s commitment to improving the health of the Milwaukie community.