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Dental clinic has budget deficit
Increased services stress funding
Dr. Risa Odum (left) is assisted by Carrie Spencer as they work on a patient at the Community Dental Clinic in uptown Martinsville. Increasing services have depleted the clinic’s reserves and caused a budget deficit. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Sunday, July 29, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
With a 24 percent increase in services being provided, the Community Dental Clinic’s reserve funds have been depleted and its budget has a deficit, according to a news release.
The Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, which operates the clinic on Fayette Street, will do everything it can to continue the clinic’s work, the release stated. It added that the clinic is seeking additional grants and contributions and pursuing other cost-saving measures so it can continue to operate.
The clinic has a $66,453 deficit in its $385,000 budget, the release stated.
The clinic is providing more than $1 million of care per year to needy area residents. Most of the care is provided by students from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene, and the Harvest Foundation has helped fund the clinic.
In the last academic year, the clinic provided 4,816 appointments, an increase of 946 or 24 percent over the previous year. Medicaid reimbursements have not met projections, and costs were 5.8 percent over budget.
Since it opened in August 2006, the clinic has provided $4,245,688.04 of basic dental care to unemployed and uninsured adults and children eligible for Medicaid benefits in the community, according to a news release.
Since then, the clinic, during 18,464 appointments, provided 21,758 diagnostic services, 10,782 preventive services and 9,307 fillings, 857 root canals and 8,186 extractions.
The students from Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene serve the patients as part of their “externships.” Dr. Risa Odum, a full-time paid staff dentist at the clinic, supervises five VCU students during each weekly rotation. Throughout the year, there are about 25 weeks of rotations, she said.
Students operating the clinic get experience in “a real-world working environment” much like a private practice, Odum said. The students “absolutely love it,” she added.
Odum was inspired while she was in high school to work in a clinic after she volunteered at dental clinics. She grew up in Tazewell County, where many residents relied on those clinics for care, she said.
Due to the large number of patients the clinic serves, there is about an 18-month waiting list to get a general appointment that includes an exam or cleaning, Odum said. However, the clinic does have emergency appointments, she added.
The co-pay that is required for each patient depends on their income. The lowest co-pay is $20 and the highest is $130 per appointment, Odum said, adding that no matter how much dental work is done during the appointment, the co-pay remains the same.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the clinic may contact Dr. Mark Crabtree at Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, 407 Starling Ave., Martinsville, or call 632-9266.