Dental clinic expanding capacity to meet demand with Medicaid expansion
The Augusta Regional Dental Clinic is working to increase its capacity by 40 percent this summer, allowing the clinic to offer 210 new appointment slots per month to Medicaid patients from the Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro area.
The expansion is in line with the upcoming $17.5 million statewide benefit expansion that was announced by Gov. Ralph Northam on March 30 that will expand dental health coverage to more than 830,000 Virginians on Medicaid.
Much-needed routine care such as cleanings, cavities fillings and root canals will now be available to Medicaid enrollees, leading to better overall health. Untreated dental problems can indeed lead to chronic pain, tooth loss, severe infections, and even heart attack or stroke.
“We could not be more excited about this expansion,” ARDC Executive Director Sophie Parson said. “It is a true recognition of the importance of oral health and preventative dental care. While most dentists recommend a cleaning twice a year, this service is not currently covered by Medicaid plans. Worse, some plans do not cover fillings, just extractions, leaving Medicaid patients with very few options to take care of their mouth and keep their teeth as long as possible. This will all change on July 1st.”
Anticipating an increased demand for dental care, ARDC kicked off an expansion project in April. The project involved the recruitment of an additional full-time dentist and the launch of a new dental hygiene program.
The clinic’s new dentist started on June 15, and the new hygiene program will begin in early July. The ARDC also hired three supporting dental assistants.
This project will allow the clinic to reduce wait time for patients and accept new ones.
“This benefit expansion would mean nothing for our patients if we did not build the capacity to address the demand it will create. This is why we decided to plan ahead of the July 1st date and increase our capacity,” Parson said. “Our entire staff, from our clinical team to our front desk colleagues as well as our Board of Directors has worked tirelessly over the past few months to make this project a reality. After a few weeks of onboarding and training our new hires, we feel ready and cannot wait to serve more neighbors in need.”