Access to dental care can be a challenge for many uninsured or underinsured Washington residents, as most dentists do not accept patients with Medicaid. In east Jefferson County, where there are 9,000 uninsured or underinsured residents, the percentage of Medicaid patients who receive dental care is one of the lowest in the state. To fill in this gap in care, Jefferson Healthcare in Port Townsend is participating in a pilot program that will bring a dental clinic to the area for these residents.
The clinic is scheduled to open in early 2019 thanks to $1 million in state capital funding. Jefferson Healthcare will be the first rural health clinic in the state to offer the service. The clinic will be located across the street from the hospital, in the same building that houses Jefferson’s primary care and behavioral health clinics — as well as the Department of Social and Health Services — easing integration with other areas of primary care health.
The clinic will contain six chairs, where patients can receive basic dental services, including cleanings, cavity fillings, extractions and X-rays. The regular dental care will help patients avoid chronic diseases that may later result in visits to the hospital emergency room, saving patients time and undue suffering, and saving both the patient and hospital money.