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KVH gets grant for Medicaid dentistry


Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) is receiving a $125,500 grant from Arcora Foundation to help establish a three-chair dental clinic with the capacity to serve nearly 5,000 dental visits a year for Medicaid and low-income patients.

KVH includes a rural health clinic and hospital with emergency, home health/hospice, outpatient, behavioral health, rehabilitation, and diagnostic imaging among its wide range of services.

Klickitat County, with its population of 22,000, is designated a Dental, Medical and Mental Health Professional Shortage Area by the federal Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

A 2016 Columbia Gorge Community Health Needs Assessment determined that dental care was the most urgent unmet health care need in eastern Klickitat County. The Assessment indicated that a quarter of the population in the area surveyed are not getting necessary dental care and that more than one in three Medicaid recipients have an unmet need. The only two dentists currently in the area do not see Medicaid patients.

“We are pleased to be able to help Klickitat Valley Health meet the urgent need for oral health care,” said Diane Oakes, President and CEO of Arcora Foundation. “Across the state only 23 percent of low-income adults and 56 percent of low-income children are getting dental care annually, and the numbers are even lower in south central Washington.”

With the grant from Arcora Foundation, which will fund the purchase of dental chairs and equipment, KVH has the final portion of funding needed to open its dental clinic in September. All of KVH’s services are located on the same campus in Goldendale. The dental clinic will be on the second floor of the primary care clinic, KVH Family Medicine, at 317 Sanders Way on the east side of the hospital.

“A new dental clinic is something the community desperately needs and we are thrilled to be able to get it going,” said KVH CEO Leslie Hiebert. “We already have a waiting list of more than 200 people who need to get dental care.”

KVH also received $195,000 from the Washington State Capital Budget and is putting an additional $50,000 from its own resources to relocate services to accommodate and develop the dental clinic. The dental clinic will operate five days a week, providing diagnostics, simple restorations and prevention services.

Currently KVH can only provide basic oral health services in its emergency room and primary care clinics. KVH has already hired a dental clinic supervisor with more than 30 years of experience managing a dental clinic in the area.

Medical providers at KVH will be trained to conduct oral health screening and apply fluoride varnish. This and the collocation of various medical services in one place will help increase collaboration and enable the easy referral of patients from primary care, emergency and other services to the dental clinic.

“Dental care is essential for health equity because oral health is health. Dental disease is painful, damaging and costly,” Oakes said. “In kids, painful cavities can interfere with sleep, nutrition, learning and communication, making it more difficult to succeed in school and in life. In adults, dental pain and tooth loss can make it difficult to get and hold a job, and for seniors to eat healthy food. The significant increase in access to dental care that will be made available through KVH should be a great benefit to the community.”


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