NEWPORT NEWS. Virginia – Dr. Richard Sweeney is helping bridge the gap between racial and ethnic disparities in dental care.
He serves underinsured patients in underserved neighborhoods at the Riverside Primary Care Community Clinic in Newport News as the area’s first dentist to practice as part of a healthcare system.
The community clinic is part of the Riverside Medical Group.
“At this clinic, we recognize the disparities in the community – especially in the southern part of the peninsula – in the number of people who do not have access to dental care simply by the volume of patients who enter the free clinic.” , Sweeney said.
By adding dental care to Riverside’s health services, Sweeney has quick access to a patient’s medical records, allowing underlying health issues to be identified and effectively treated.
“If you have untreated dental disease, you’re going to end up with co-morbidities that will be associated with your overall health – untreated heart disease, diabetes, all kinds of stuff,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney also provides dental trauma care in the Riverside Regional Medical Center emergency room as needed.
“This is why it is important to be in a hospital setting because you have immediate access to a patient’s medical records, so you can know whether or not these patients are at risk for these other conditions than a dentist in the area. private may not know. of, ”he said.
The unique dental program helps remove barriers to accessing care.
Disadvantaged patients who present to hospital and suddenly need emergency dental treatment are connected to clinic resources and services.
Sweeney recalls one of her recent patients who she believes is a recovering drug addict. She did not have dental insurance when she arrived at the hospital with an unrelated problem, so they helped the woman apply for Medicaid, and they are helping her with her dental problems.
“When she was released, she came here and was crying most of the time, so grateful to finally have access to dental care, because now that she is recovering, she wants to get her life back in hand, and we are going to be. able to achieve it, ”Sweeney said. “It was so nice to know that you are going to help someone and to see the real emotion in their face.”
Dental services are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the office located at 727 25e Street, Newport News, Virginia. To make an appointment, call 757-316-5210. For more information, click here.
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