Access to Care

Access to Dental Care continues to be a Nationwide problem in part due to the very low rates of Medicaid reimbursement and the challenges of the billing system. This is a challenge for many island residents and while OICF is continuing the Dental Van program, it simply is not enough. None of the local dental practices on Orcas take Apple Care, the Medicaid insurance care for children nor do they accept Medicaid for adult patients. Orcas residents who can not afford the out-of-pocket costs of care either wait for one of the Dental Van visits or travel off the island to seek care. Unfortunately, many of the clinics on the mainland that take Medicaid are now full and not accepting new patients.

What a challenge in the best of times, but imagine managing this in the summer, with the ferry system in disarray and with a toothache- a nightmare for sure.

Fortunately, Chris Chord, the superintendent of the Orcas Island Health Care District, recognized the urgency of this issue and applied for and was awarded a grant from the Department of Health to create a permanent solution. We are likely looking at a mobile office to start, with a goal of building a small clinic in the near future, unless we can sublease one of the existing practices on off days. Island Hospital has agreed to manage the billing, which will make the program potentially self-sufficient once established.

I am deeply grateful that Chris and the OI Health District Commission recognize that access to dental care is a critical part of building a healthy community. OICF is committed to making this happen as well.  

If you are interested in supporting the upcoming Dental van clinics as a volunteer or if you can provide housing for the visiting team of dentists and hygienists, please let me know. Having welcoming volunteers and a nice place for them to stay makes a world of difference. Thank you.

I hope you have a great weekend-