News Article

Monongalia Health Department invest $100K from grant to expand dental clinic

By: Conor Griffith, Staff Writer    |   Nov 3, 2017
MORGANTOWN — With the addition of new rooms, the Monongalia County Health Department’s dental clinic aims to improve patients’ experiences.

The clinic recently opened a new dental room, its fifth where patients can be seen, along with a larger room dedicated to sterilizing dental equipment.

Dr. Dan Carrier, the health department’s dentist since 2010, said the improvements were made possible by two grants received earlier this year — one from the West Virginia Oral Health Development Program for $89,000 and another from the American Dental Association for nearly $10,000.

Carrier said he just happened to see an advertisement from the West Virginia Oral Health Development Program at a time when grant funding was being discussed, prompting him to apply.

“We’re able to function more efficiently,” said dental hygienist Tiffany Summerlin.

She said that since staff at the clinic are assigned to do certain things, the added space means they can see more patients while carrying out their respective tasks.

“We can make things more convenient for the patients. I’m busy, you’re busy and moms are busy.”

Carrier said the extra dental room means more appointment times available, and the staff offers more same-day follow-up treatment opportunities to fill cavities during routine check-ups, rather than scheduling a separate appointment. He added that some families drive from as far as 45 minutes away to be seen, and the added space is intended to cut down on that commute.

“Our focus is the patient experience,” he said. “Teeth chip and break at the worst times.”

MCHD Dentistry is the only comprehensive dental clinic located within a county health department in the state. Established in 1974, it offers serves ranging from tobacco cessation counseling and implants to fluoride treatment and cosmetics, just to name a few.

“It’s not limited to Mon County,” Carrier said. “We definitely have patients from Marion and Harrison counties. There’s even a family up in Wheeling that moved from here but still comes down.”

The MCHD accepts Medicaid and private insurance payments. Carrier said patients without dental insurance are eligible for a sliding scale service fee based on their income and family size. To encourage new patients, he said the office is also offering a bundle package for adults that includes a check-up, X-rays and cleaning for $150.

In addition to added patient capacity, Carrier said the office’s new sterilization room — while still a little small — is twice the size of its predecessor, making it easier for the staff to get tools and equipment ready to use. The dentist said the grants also paid for a new Statim 5000 instrument cleaner and an UltraClave M11 sterilizer, items that cost $6,000 apiece. Both of them are now kept in the new room.

“I think our staff might be more excited about the new sterilization room,” Carrier said, noting the old room was actually the clinic’s former dark room leftover from pre-digital X-ray days.

Lastly, he said the grants paid for two new dental chairs. With these new additions, the clinic now uses chairs that are all the same model from the same manufacturer, which will save money in the long run and parts and maintenance.

According to a press release, MCHD Dentistry saw 4,304 patients during the 2016-17 fiscal year and that number is expected to climb to 5,000 during the current fiscal year.

Staff writer Conor Griffith can be reached by at 304-395-3168 or by email at cgriffith@statejournal.com.

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