The Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center, also known as the Maui Community Clinic, recently received a $126,700 grant from the Hawaiʻi Dental Service Foundation for new dental equipment that allows its 12 dental practices to reopen in safely and to serve the community.
The dental clinic offers access to a range of comprehensive dental services including routine exams, x-rays, cleanings, deep cleanings, fillings, crowns, partial and full dentures, root canal treatments and extractions, as well as all pediatric dental care to improve quality. of life for underserved children and adults and the uninsured.
“The pandemic has created more needs in our community and forced us to change our protocols. This generous and timely grant from the HDS Foundation enables us to acquire new equipment that meets strict COVID-19 safety guidelines from the American Dental Association and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We can once again provide dental care in our community, especially for those with little or no income who have reduced dental insurance coverage as a result of the pandemic,” said Dr Lawrence Shin, who has was dental director of Mālama I Ke Ola. Health center since 2018.
CCM expects a faster, smoother and more efficient workflow that allows providers to see more patients. New medical-grade HEPA air filters in each dental operating room allow CCM to see multiple patients in an open bay clinic and provide more complex treatments. The new 3D X-ray machine assesses whether CCM dentists are capable of performing root canal treatment to avoid unnecessary referrals to a specialist. CCM’s new intraoral scanner also offers faster turnaround time for crowns and bridges.
“Many in our community have neglected oral care due to the constant wearing of masks and had to postpone dental visits during the pandemic. When patients postpone dental appointments, it can lead to more serious oral health issues,” Dr. Shin said. “It’s the perfect time to catch up and get back into routine – like getting back to the gym after a long break. We’re open and ready for you.
On Maui and the other nearby islands, there are fewer dentists per capita than on Oʻahu. Many Maui dentists may limit their service to private insurance and private patients. Therefore, patients seeking dental care through the Med-QUEST program may not be able to find a participating provider in their service area. This situation has worsened during the pandemic as many dental providers on Maui have closed their patient panels for adult Medicaid patients, leaving CCM as one of the few providers on Maui willing to treat adult Medicaid patients. Medicaid and the Uninsured.
The CCM opened its operating rooms cautiously in a phased approach. Last year, the dental clinic remained open to adult emergency patients and children for routine care, with two dentists on staff. In January 2021, the dental clinic began seeing all patients with five operating theaters in operation with three dentists on staff. As of July 2021, the remaining seven operating rooms were fully operational and fully staffed, including a pediatric dentist and a pediatric resident. Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center now has a total of five dentists and two hygienists.
With all 12 rooms in service, CCM expects to be able to return to 70% of pre-COVID encounter numbers by the end of 2022. CCM is currently recruiting additional dental staff and will eventually be able to host emergency marches again . ins to reduce dental-related visits to hospital emergency rooms.
“We recognize that vulnerable populations on Maui, like all other islands, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID‐19. The pandemic caused many dentists to reduce their office hours for routine preventative care and were only seeing patients for emergency and emergency services,” said Dr. Diane Paloma, President and CEO. of Hawaii Dental Service. “As a result, many may have delayed preventive care due to limited access to oral health services for them during the pandemic. This grant helps open the door for them and make oral health care more accessible.
“COVID-19 is teaching us many important lessons: our interconnectedness and dependence on each other; our individual and collective responsibility for social well-being and, most importantly, our shared humanity,” Shin said. “How we collectively address the social conditions of our most vulnerable people after the pandemic is over is critical and will shape the trajectory of their health and well-being. We hope to address some of the oral care needs of our community by fully and safely reopening our dental service. »