A $350,000 grant is helping to put the dentistry in Lorain County Health & Dentistry.
The nonprofit group’s clinic, which opened April 5 at 260 South Main St., only provides dental services one day per week.
However, that will soon change thanks to the grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Lorain County Health & Dentisty was one of 420 community health centers nationally, including 16 in Ohio, to to receive the grant, according to a news release from the group.
The money will be used to hire a dentist and pay for dental services in Oberlin as well as clinics in Elyria and Lorain, said Stephanie Wiersma, the group’s CEO and president. It will be awarded annually as long as the group’s clinics meet federal standards for care.
Wiersma said the dentist will split time in Oberlin and Elyria. The Oberlin clinic will offer full-time dental care after the hiring which Wiersma said will occur as soon as possible.
“I’d do it next week if we could,” Wiersma said, adding that hiring a dentist willing to work at clinics is difficult because the pay isn’t as high as for specialized care.
She wouldn’t say what the salary range is for the position. However, the average salary for a dentist working at outpatient clinics last year was about $150,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The hiring is part of efforts to improve services for the group’s patients, many of whom are poor and who sometimes had illnesses exacerbated because they couldn’t afford treatment. The 2013 expansion of Medicaid in Ohio through the 2010 passage of Obamacare — officially known as the Affordable Care Act — has helped the group expand services.
Formed in 2002, Lorain County Health & Dentistry has an approximately $8 million annual budget. It served about 12,000 patients who made nearly 40,000 visits last year. About 9,600 visits, or 24 percent, were for dental care.
“The demand for dental care is greater, right out of the gate, than it might be for other medical services such as pediatrics, optometry, even adult medicine,” Wiersma said. “For us, the key is to find a provider to be there full-time. “
Wiersma said the clinic treats about a dozen patients per day and has four employees. She expects the number of patients to increase in the fall and winter when more people tend to get sick. The clinic plans to have a staff of about 20 by the end of 2017.
Evan Goodenow can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Oberlin News-Tribune A $350,000 grant will expand dental services at Lorain County Health & Dentistry, 260 South Main St., Oberlin.