Renew Our Community’s efforts to offer sustainable dental care to those in the region who can least afford it is getting a boost Thursday from Chester County.
The Chester Healthcare Foundation is donating $25,000 to help the nonprofit offer, or arrange, dental care for those in need.
It is Renew Our Community’s second major partnership in its quest to improve the community’s dental care. The organization has been working with the emergency department of Piedmont Medical Center since January, arranging dental care for 171 of the 317 people who came to the hospital complaining of tooth pain, said Renew Our Community organizer Dale Dove.
The nonprofit group also has arrangements with 20 dentists in York County to take patient referrals as well as with Affinity Care, formerly Catawba Care, and the York County Free Medical Clinic for dental appointments.
Renew Our Community also is running its own dental clinic several days a week at the Rock Hill Bible Fellowship in the Catawba Terrace neighborhood, Dove said.
The organization is working to create a financially sustainable network for those seeking care. Funding the program is a big challenge as free dental care doesn’t work long term, Dove said.
One option is to see if patients quality for Medicaid, which can pay up to $750 annually for some dental procedures, Dove said.
Another option is creating low-interest, line-of-credit accounts at local banks and credit unions to help those in need meet payments. The accounts would allow people to pay for their dental care over time.
The initiatives are an outgrowth of last year’s Dental Access Days sponsored by the S.C. Dental Association. Held over two days at the First Baptist Church in Rock Hill, Dental Access Days volunteer dentists and assistants cleaned teeth, took X-rays, filled cavities and extracted teeth. They also did more complicated procedures such as root canals and crowns.
In all, 1,412 people were treated and hundreds were turned away, Dove said. The event, Dove said, demonstrated the overwhelming need for more dental care options in the region.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066