The grant will be used to retrofit two offices at Oxford County Community Health Centre into a dental clinic for low-income adults
TMMC donated $150,000 on Thursday to the Oxford County Community Health Centre to fund a dental clinic for low-income residents. From left Randy Peltz, Ann Campbell, Jeff Small, Ray McFalls, Stephanie Pollard and Suzanne Baal. (HEATHER RIVERS, Sentinel-Review)
It’s their largest donation to date this year and a dream come true for the Oxford Oral Health Access Initiative.
Jo-Anne Orton, project manager of the initiative, said she felt like she had received a very special visit from the tooth fairy when she learned of TMMC’s $150,000 donation to build a dental clinic for low-income residents.
“I’ve had to pinch myself,” Orton said. “It’s so exciting that what started out as a United Way grant a year and a half ago has been allowed to grow into this opportunity to actually have a physical space for dental work for low-income adults in Oxford County.”
While children of low-income parents under 18 years can access dental care through Healthy Smiles, Orton said there has been a gap in the system for adults.
“We know that 30 per cent of Oxford County residents haven’t been to the dentist in the last year,” she said. “That’s because of the cost.”
In 2015 there were 1,540 visits to Oxford County emergency rooms for people with tooth pain or infection at a cost $540,000.
“When people go to the ER for treatment they don’t get treatment because there are no dentists,” she said. “They receive antibiotics and painkillers and are told to go to a dentist that they can’t afford in the first place.”
Following a model based in Haliburton, the clinic will developed at the Oxford County Community Health Centre in Woodstock with guidance from dentists from the Schulich Dentistry and will utilize volunteer dentists, dental assistants and hygienists.
The donation will be used to retrofit two offices at the community health centre to provide restorative dental services including cavities and extractions, as well as oral health hygiene education.
The clinic is expected to be up and running by early 2018.
“This is an amazing public/private partnership that will benefit the community enormously,” said Randy Peltz, CHC executive director. “It’s a very generous donation by TMMC into our community.”
Stephanie Pollard, vice-president of administration at TMMC said they made the decision based on their “mandate to elevate the foundation of the community where we and our members work.”
“We take for granted dental care,” she said. “We forget a lot of people don’t have it.”
--- --- ---
Dental care by the numbers:
- Every nine minutes a person in Ontario goes to the ER with a dental problem.
- Two to three million Ontarians have not seen a dentist in the past year.
- One-third of Ontario workers do not receive dental benefits.
- In the Southwest LHIN there were 18,747 visits in 2014 to family physicians at a cost of $656,145.