Dental clinic for low income patients set to close

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A dental clinic for low income patients is facing closure as a result of funding cuts and the rising cost of Medicaid.

Oral Health Services in Port Angeles will close at the end of February; the clinic is run by Olympic Community Action Programs. Recently another programme run by the non-profit company was also discontinued; the programme provided dental care for residents in Jefferson County but OlyCAP was forced to stop the service at the end of last year.

Executive Director, Tim Hockett, said that the company was no longer to continue providing some of the programmes due to state funding cuts and increases in the cost of Medicaid. This year alone, the organisation is facing an additional cost of $270,000 compared to last year and they simply cannot continue helping people in the same way.

The clinic in Port Angeles opened in 2006 and last year 5,500 patients were treated last year; an additional 1,000 emergency dental visits were made. The clinic operates a sliding fee scale, meaning that patients pay what they can afford for treatment; the clinic was also one of the only providers in the area to accept Medicaid patients.

Demand for affordable and free dental services is already extremely high in North Olympic Peninsula and dentists and charities are worried that the closure of facilities like the Oral Health Services clinic will leave thousands of people without access to dental treatment.L

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