Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center has added specialty dental care to the services it provides to low-income uninsured and underinsured adults at its Community Specialty Clinic.
The new dental clinic will focus on complex specialty care, first focusing on difficult tooth extractions but there are plans to add root canals in the future.
“Severe mouth pain related to dental problems is one of the most common problems seen in hospital emergency rooms,” said Dr. Jay Fathi, Swedish Medical Director for Primary Care and Community Health. “Often, despite their best efforts, emergency department physicians can’t fully treat patients who have active oral infections or abscesses until a problem tooth is removed.”
Care at the new dental clinic will be provided by volunteer dentists and oral surgeons from the Seattle-King County Dental Society,
Swedish estimates some 25 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in year two, hospital officials said.
The Swedish Community Specialty Clinic, which is housed 4,000-square-foot facility next to Swedish’s main hospital building on Broadway, offers a variety of specialty care services to low-income and uninsured adults, including general surgery, dermatology, orthopedics, hand surgery and podiatric surgery.
Other specialty care, such as cardiology, gynecology, neurology and urology services, are coordinated by the clinic staff but are provided off-site in the offices of the participating volunteer specialists.
All care is provided free by volunteer specialists from Swedish and many other local physician groups.
The clinic is operated in partnership with Project Access Northwest (PANW), local nonprofit that founded six years ago to build a network of specialists in the King County who would be willing to provide care to low-income and uninsured patients.
“Some community health centers offer primary-care dental for adults, but no one is doing specialty care,” said Sallie Neillie, executive director of Project Access Northwest. “With the health-care safety net slowly being eliminated, hospitals have no place to send these patients, so we had to step up to meet a growing need.”
In the case of the new dental clinic, PANW personnel help provide patient triage and case management and will help with dentist scheduling and arranging patient visits.
Dental care will be provided on a referral basis, and most patients are expected to come via the Swedish system or through a variety of low-income community clinics authorized to refer patients
- The Swedish Community Specialty Clinic is located on the ninth floor of the Heath Building at 801 Broadway, part of the Swedish/First Hill campus.
- Specialty Dental services are available by referral from a primary-care dentist and by appointment only.
- For more information on specialty dental services, call Project Access Northwest at 206-788-4559 or visit www.swedish.org/Services/Swedish-Community-Specialty-Clinic.
- For more information about Project Access Northwest, visit www.projectaccessnw.org.
SCSC and partner Project Access Northwest received four major contributions that enabled the clinic to open three fully outfitted dental surgery and treatment rooms:
- Washington Dental Service Foundation awarded the clinic a grant of $182,103. The Foundation is a non-profit funded by Washington Dental Service and dedicated to significant, long-lasting improvements in community oral health.
- Seattle-King County Dental Foundation provided $51,149 to support the purchase of dental equipment.
- The Pacific Hospital Preservation & Development Authority provided $51,000 for staffing at PANW. The grant supports a case manager/dental assistant who triages patients to the clinic and supports the dentists and oral surgeons.
- Burkhart Dental Supply made an in-kind contribution of more than $12,000. It donated the facility space planning, build-out coordination, equipment selection and installation, and equipment training and maintenance.