Free dental clinic set to open in a few weeks

March 14, 2007 at 5:06 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The St. Charles Parish Community Health Center will open a dental clinic in June.

And the first patients to be served will be the 3,500 children who are presently enrolled at the health center.

“Our goal is to treat children and adults without dental insurance - and the kids will come first,” James Commeaux, clinic spokesman, told the Herald-Guide.

“Those who can’t pay will be charged on a sliding-fee scale to keep things affordable.”

A ‘sliding fee scale’ means that residents will be charged for services based on the amount of income and number of people living in their household.

“Some people will pay as little as $5.00 for these services, it all depends on how much money they make,” Commeaux said.

“The clinic will accept all forms of insurance, including Medicaid,” he continued.

Services provided at the dental office include initial teeth and gum screenings, cleanings, and fillings.

“If the dentist discovers a problem during the check-up that requires surgery, the patient is sent to the Louisiana State University’s Dental School in Baton Rouge,” Commeaux said.

With funding provided Commeaux was only able to hire a small staff.

“We hired one denist and one hygienist (dental assistant) for the clinic,” Commeaux said.

The goal of the clinic is to establish low income dental care to St. Charles Parish residents and the surrounding region to meet additional demands due to an increased need directly related to Hurricane Katrina.

“Part of the post Katrina plans included a mobile dental unit, but the government didn’t give us enough funding to purchase it,” Commeaux continued.

“We are spending $375,000 to open an onsite clinic instead.”

Commeaux agrees that the mobile dental unit is an essential component to the project.

“Residents who live on the east bank of the parish and need to access facilities on the west bank of the parish can’t because they may not have transportation,” he continued.

“The mobile dental unit could fill the gap in providing them services.”

An additional $150,000 is needed to purchase the unit.

View other articles written Shonna Riggs

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