Home Health Area dental clinic for low-income seniors set to open

Area dental clinic for low-income seniors set to open

Middlesex-London Health Unit is weeks away from opening a dental clinic for low-income seniors in Strathroy.

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The Middlesex-London Health Unit is weeks away from opening a dental clinic for low-income seniors in Strathroy.

Construction on the new clinic at 51 Front St. in Strathroy will be finished May 31 and it will open in June — a much-needed expansion of the organization’s dental care capacity.

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“We want to get through our wait list as fast as we can,” said Donna Kosmack, the health unit’s manager of dental care.

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“We are working on all aspects of getting this clinic up and running as fast as we possibly can. From the build right through to hiring are all underway and we’re excited to open the office.”

The renovation of the Shops on Sydenham mall space was funded by about $1 million from the province’s senior dental care program that launched in 2019. It provides eligible low-income adults 65 and older with checkups, cleanings, X-rays and oral surgery.

The health unit has 588 people on a wait list for new patient appointments, Kosmack said.

“We’re finding the majority of our patients haven’t been to a dentist before or in a very long time,” she said. “There’s a significant amount of work that needs to be done for some individuals.”

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The Strathroy location has four dental procedure rooms, an X-ray room, a space for consultations, a waiting room and office space.

The Strathroy clinic builds on the work the health unit is doing at its CitiPlaza dental clinic in downtown London but makes the in-demand services more accessible for low-income seniors outside of the city, Kosmack said.

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The health unit seeks an additional $1.5 million from the province so it can continue to run the CitiPlaza and Strathroy clinics to their full capacity.

The health unit rented space at The Wright Clinic — a Glen Cairn dentist office that serves low-income Londoners — and Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre’s Muncey dental office to address demand for the senior dental program while the Strathroy site was under construction.

The health unit would like to continue these rental agreements once the Strathroy office is open, but it will depend on funding, Kosmack said.

Unlike Ontario’s Healthy Smiles program for children — which allows eligible low-income kids to seek dental care at private practices — the province’s senior dental care program is fully run by health units.

The cut-offs for the senior dental care program are an annual net income of $22,200 for one person or a combined income of $37,100 or less for a couple. The program is only open to seniors without other dental benefits or coverage.

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