PENOBSCOT COUNTY - Penquis Community Action Program has received a $100,000 grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation to help establish a dental clinic for underserved residents of Penobscot County. The clinic will open by October 1 and will be located in the Penobscot Community Health Center facility on Union Street, Bangor. Private insurance and MaineCare will be accepted, and a sliding fee scale will determine cost for individuals without insurance.
"Access to oral and dental health care services is at a crisis point for many Mainers, especially those who are uninsured," noted Dr. Wendy Wolf, Executive Director of the Maine Health Access Foundation. "Penquis CAP has an outstanding track record of providing care through their network of clinics. This new dental clinic is an important step toward bringing readily available, comprehensive services to the people in central Maine."
The clinic is also supported by grants from the Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, $5,000; Davis Family Foundation, $25,000; Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation, $50,000; Libra Foundation, $10,000; Agnes M. Lindsay Trust, $5,000; Maine Community Foundation, Maine Charity Fund, $2,500; Maine Community Foundation, Penobscot Valley Health Association Fund, $42,000; Maine Department of Human Services, Bureau of Health, $98,750; Northeast Delta Dental Foundation, $10,000; and St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation, $10,000. The Penobscot Community Health Center is providing space and supporting services.
The Penobscot Dental Coalition developed the plans for the dental clinic as a result of a one-year planning grant funded by the Department of Human Services. The coalition is a group of dental and medical providers, educators and consumers working to increase access to dental care in Penobscot County. As part of a needs assessment, a survey was circulated to various health clinics, Head Start programs and Emergency Departments in spring 2001. Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents indicated that they, or a member of their family, had needed dental care at some point and been unable to afford it. Sixty-four percent (64%) of respondents reported cost as the primary reason for not seeking regular dental care.
"The need for increased access to dental care is overwhelming," says Mary Jude, Dental Health Access Coordinator for Penquis CAP. "The clinic will open with a full-time dentist. We know that one dentist will not be able to meet the need that currently exists, but it is a huge step in the right direction. We are continuing to seek funding for the clinic to increase our capacity to serve more people."
The Maine Health Access Foundation, Inc. (MeHAF) is the state's largest private nonprofit health care foundation. The Foundation was created as the result of the sale of the nonprofit Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield (a for-profit health care insurer). The proceeds of the acquisition provided the endowment that supports the Foundation's annual grant and program activities. MeHAF's mission is to promote affordable and timely access to comprehensive, quality health care for every Maine resident. To advance this mission, MeHAF supports strategic solutions to Maine's health care needs through grants and other programs, particularly targeting those who are uninsured and medically underserved. The Foundation currently has assets of $88,000,000.
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