Free and Reduced Dental Care
Island Health & Wellness Foundation, partnering with the Robinson Foundation and an anonymous local donor, is committed to helping the Island Dental Offices provide the reduced-fee care needed in this community. While Island Family Medicine has such a program through its parent hospital, Blue Hill Memorial Hospital, there is no like resource for the dentists.
Oral healthcare is a great need, but can be an unaffordable luxury. Our population is much older than the national average (27% age 65+ vs. 13%); many are on fixed incomes, with dental care not covered by Medicare or Medicaid. Many younger residents lack dental coverage, either at work or through private insurance. In both cases, reduced-fee care can bring quality oral healthcare to those who would otherwise go untreated.
The reduced-fee dental care program has three components. The first is reduced-charge dental visits and procedures provided on an as-needed or as-requested basis to low-income members of the community who could not otherwise afford them. Such services include regular check-ups, simple and complex procedures, emergency visits, etc., often through referrals from local primary care providers or emergency rooms. The second component is a partnership with the local Island Nursing Home and Care Center to provide low-cost screenings and preventive care to residents, along with very low-cost follow-up procedures as restorative and other oral care needs are identified. The third component, very important in this rural area, comprises free oral health screenings, preventive services and education in a number of venues beyond the dental offices, including: ongoing service to the Deer Isle-Stonington Elementary School, where children receive a twice-yearly application of fluoride varnish; the annual “Men’s Boat Overhaul” for Island fishermen in January; and the annual Children’s Health Fair in September.
Wendy Alpaugh, DMD, expressed the following about the help her patients receive through this funding:
Funding has enabled us to care for more Island residents who cannot afford the full cost of dental care. When life circumstances create financial insecurity, we are able to relieve some of that burden and provide the needed dental care. This can save the patient from unnecessary pain and infection, allow them to eat and speak comfortably, and reduce complications to their overall health.