Local News

Clinic changes appointment policy

Date: 10/2/2009

Posted by United Methodist Mexican American Ministries on 10/12/2009


By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

The United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries dental clinic celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon at the clinic where now, instead of waiting months for appointments, patients will be able to schedule an appointment within two weeks of calling.

Patients will see the dental clinic's new dentist, Dr. Lance Palmer, who moved to the area from Nova Scotia, Canada.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram — United Mexican American Ministries staff doctor Lance Palmer, right and dental assistant Aracely Gonzalez work with a patient on Thursday morning at the clinic.

Laurie Sisk/Telegram — United Mexican American Ministries staff doctor Lance Palmer, right and dental assistant Aracely Gonzalez work with a patient on Thursday morning at the clinic.

Palmer did a Mormon mission in California, where he learned Spanish, and is now part of UMMAM's bilingual staff.

The dental clinic staff currently operates four chairs. In 2008, just two chairs were open for patients.

The clinic has been in operation in its current location, St. Catherine Hospital's Medical Building, 310 E. Walnut St., since August 2008. Before, the clinic operated out of the Finney County Health Department on a part-time basis. UMMAM has been doing oral health screenings since 2000.

Stephanie Waggoner, executive director of UMMAM, said the two-week schedule at the dental clinic will help patients remember their appointments, and patients will receive more timely care.

She said the time people call for an appointment often is the time when they need the care the most or have the money to visit the clinic.

The fee for using the dental services depends on a sliding scale of the patient's income. The clinic welcomes both insurance holders and those with no insurance.

"We're trying to provide access to people who wouldn't otherwise have it," Waggoner said.

From August until December 2008, the clinic served 545 patients. Staff visited 69 schools in 15 counties and screened 12,209 children. The dental clinic's hygienist, Mary Ellen Caldwell, visits schools, screens children and provides toothbrushes and brushing kits. Caldwell tells the nurse when she has a concern about a child's teeth, then the nurse tells the parents the child needs dental attention. The Lifetime Smiles project helps fund the school visits.

The Lifetime Smiles dental project increases public awareness about oral health issues, offers preventive information and education, and removes access barriers to dental health services. Lifetime Smiles' goals are to improve and maintain oral health throughout communities in southwest Kansas, according to UMMAM's Web site.

The dental clinic receives funds from a state Dental Hub Grant, which is a combination different foundations that fund community health; Smart Start; and the National Oral Children's Foundation, Waggoner said.

People interested in making an appointment at the dental clinic can call 272-0570.


For more information: http://www.ummam.org/