CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A new mobile dental clinic will allow West Virginia Health Right to provide much-needed dental care for low-income families in six West Virginia counties.
The clinic, unveiled Wednesday, will serve residents in McDowell, Logan, Boone, Clay, Roane and Harrison counties.
“It’s pretty exciting to see that we’re probably going to treat at least 3,000 people the first year,” said Angie Settle, CEO of WV Health Right, during a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour of the unit in Charleston.
Services are free of charge to uninsured or under-insured residents with Medicaid or Medicare.
Some of the features of include: Three dental chairs, an X-ray machine, a kitchen, microwave, bathroom and sterilization area. Dentists will serve patients who need fillings, extractions and dental cleanings.
Settle said the idea stemmed from the June 2016 flood.
“We were one of the first people to respond on the scene and I said we really need something mobile,” she said.
West Virginia Health Right has partnered with Marshall University to provide dentists and dental hygienists to travel up to 2.5 hours per day.
Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chair Tom Takubo (R-Kanawha, 17) was among several state lawmakers who attended Wednesday’s dedication event. He told guests the need to provide dental care in the Mountain State is huge.
“Whenever you see patients, especially the elderly, and you ask them one regret they all have is I wish I had taken better care of my teeth,” Takubo said. “A lot of times though, it’s that they don’t have the education. They don’t have the resources.”
He added, “To get it to these small towns that we’ve all grown up in, you just can’t speak highly enough of how important it is for West Virginians.”
The patient waiting list at West Virginia Health Right has grown over the years, Settle said.
“We have people traveling from Logan County, from Harrison County just to get dental care here,” she said. “So it’s pretty amazing that we are able to bring it to their front door.”
Dental health will impact total body health, Settle said.
“It impacts work — if you don’t have your front teeth, it impacts the parents’ ability to get a job, so this is going to impact more than just teeth,” she said.
The clinic will operate three days a week. Settle said the goal is to increase that time to five days a week and travel to additional counties.
Contact information to access dental care is listed below:
Community Cares of WV-Clay office
Roane General Hospital
Coalfield Health Center
Boone Memorial Hospital
Welch Community Hospital