my information

--- Issued March 16, 2013

On March 14,  the Erie Times News printed the following article:

New Dental Clinic Aims to Help Erie's Poor

 By ERICA ERWIN, Erie Times-News

 
For some, the problem is lack of money or access. For others, it's a lack of transportation.

Whatever the reason, some of Erie's poorest residents aren't getting the dental care they need.

The Erie Housing Authority's new dental clinic aims to fix that.

The authority on Wednesday formally dedicated its Dental Office and Resident Services Complex at 2120 E. 10th St., in the John E. Horan Garden Apartments. The dedication kicked off a yearlong celebration of the authority's 75th anniversary.

"It's taken a long time, but we expect it to be here a long time," authority Executive Director John Horan said of the clinic. "We think it will provide a very needed resource to our residents, especially the children."

The clinic is a joint venture between the authority and Community Health Net, a nonprofit medical clinic that specializes in treating low-income people. Under an agreement between the two agencies, the authority provides the space for the clinic, and Community Health Net provides the staff and equipment.

One full-time dentist, one full-time hygienist and two dental assistants work at the clinic, which is open to the public, regardless of income, and not limited to Housing Authority residents.

Anthony Snow, M.D., Community Health Net's chief medical officer and interim chief executive, said low-income people are "desperate" for good medical and dental care -- and that the two are directly connected. Dental health is an indicator of medical health and is tied to a person's quality of life, he said.

The need for quality dental care is "overwhelming, especially when we realize it's not just about cosmetics, the pearly white teeth," Snow said.

A 2012 survey by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that low-income nonelderly adults are less likely to have seen a dental provider within the past year than higher-income adults. Low-income and minority adults are disproportionately affected by tooth decay, the study found.

One local problem is access: The federal government has designated Erie and Crawford counties as low-income Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas because few dentists and oral surgeons here treat Medicaid patients.

To meet demand, Erie County needs an additional 16 full-time dental providers who accept Medicaid patients, the federal government estimated.

The authority's new clinic helps to shrink the gap.

Dental care is "one of the things that takes a lesser priority for those folks who are challenged economically," Mayor Joe Sinnott said before the dedication.

Having a clinic on site at the authority's largest family development -- about 1,000 people, including about 400 children under age 7, live at the Garden Apartments -- makes dental care "a lot easier and more accessible to them," Sinnott said.

The clinic officially opened Nov. 28 after more than a year of delays related to the renovation of the building. Since then, 253 patients have been served, 76 of whom are public housing residents, Horan said.

"That's 76 people who probably wouldn't have seen a dentist in the last three months," Horan said.

ERICA ERWIN can be reached at 870-1846 or by e-mail. Follow her at twitter.com/ETNerwin.