DuBOIS – The DuBois Inc. Free Medical Clinic is launching a major expansion of its dental program thanks to the generosity of the AJ & Sigismunda Palumbo Charitable Trust and the Glenn and Ruth Mengle Foundation.
Because “oral health is health,” the free medical clinic sought funding to be able to provide an expanded service to the surrounding residents of the tri-county area to those residents who do not have health insurance or who have no health insurance. are underinsured, according to executive director Donald J. Kruk.
“What this translates to is residents who only have Medicare A & B but do not have an additional policy to prove for dental care could now be eligible,” Kruk said.
The Free Medical Clinic is an established health clinic located in downtown DuBois that has provided quality primary health care, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and specialist referral services to low-income and non-resident residents. insured in the tri-county area, which consists of Clearfield, Jefferson and Elk Counties. Since its inception in 1998, the clinic has provided $ 22 million in free medical services to vulnerable and underserved residents of surrounding communities.
“Our current location continues to provide the means for growth and expansion,” said Kruk.
In addition to providing primary health care services, the clinic also offers dental health and vision care services (routine eye exams, diabetic eye exams and corrective glasses), Kruk said. The clinic also continues to maintain the Chronic Disease Management Program, Prediabetes Screening Program, Heart Attack and Stroke Screening Program, and orthopedic services.
After receiving a grant of $ 92,000 from the Palumbo Charitable Trust and $ 54,000 from the Mengle Foundation, the clinic now plans to further integrate its primary health services with the expansion of the Access to Oral Care program and of the behavioral health program.
“At this unique moment, we have the opportunity to transform a system that historically has left many people without the access to the oral health care they deserve,” Kruk said. “Now more than ever, we need to invest in innovative ways to deliver care. The Free Medical Clinic has chosen to respond to this crisis and lead us towards a future of equity in oral health. Why? Because, in simple terms, oral health is health.
Jefferson, Clearfield and Elk counties are designated as underserved areas for access to oral health services. Jefferson County is fully designated as an underserved area.
The CMF’s current oral health access program requires expansion in four areas, according to Paula Rock, director of social services at the Free Medical Clinic.
- The $ 500 limit is insufficient to meet the serious dental needs of current patients who have neglected or could not afford adequate oral health services.
- The clinic receives countless calls from area residents looking for reduced or free dental services. Many patients may benefit from partial health care coverage that does not include dental coverage. Because they even have minimal primary health care coverage, the clinic cannot accept them as free clinic patients.
- The initial level of dental services was limited to basic dental services, limited restorative services, and preventive dental services. The clinic found that many patients suffer from severe oral disease that requires surgical extraction, periodontics, prosthodontics, and endodontics services. Several patients with advanced oral diseases have required oral surgery. In order to provide the range of dental care required, they should expand the services to include specialist referrals.
- Addition of oral health care providers.
The expansion will include:
- Ceiling increase – the clinic will increase access to oral health services by increasing the financial capacity to directly cover the cost of dental services provided to CME patients. Based on data analysis of services that have already been provided to patients and recommended treatment plans submitted by dental providers, the CMF calculates that in order to provide the recommended level of oral health interventions by dental providers, the limit per patient will be increased to $ 1,500.
- Extension of eligibility criteria – CMF will establish a separate service category within the free clinic, which is specific to oral health care. The eligibility criterion would allow patients who do not have dental insurance under a separate policy or the patient may have limited primary health care coverage that excludes dental health care coverage.
The Oral Care Access Program would provide the following services: basic dental and restorative dental services, preventive services, referral to specialized dental services, and oral health education and training.
The DuBois Free Medical Clinic, an outreach service affiliated with Penn Highlands DuBois, is located at 47 W. Long Ave. in downtown DuBois. To make an appointment or for more information, call 814-372-2200.