On June 30, 2017, Project Access Northwest ended its King County dental referral program and helped transition that service to be managed internally by Swedish Community Specialty Clinic. Project Access Northwest continues to work with Northwest Kidney Center clients and the Snohomish dental program. With a generous grant from Arcora Foundation, it will seek new, innovative and sustainable ways to help deliver dental care to low-income patients going forward.
June 30, 2017 marked a big change for Project Access Northwest, as it suspended its King County dental referral program and helped transition that service to be managed internally by Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC).
The SCSC was developed in 2011 in partnership with Project Access Northwest to help patients who could not access specialized medical care due to lack of insurance and inability to pay for their care. With the help of a grant from Pacific Hospital PDA, dental services were added in 2012 to address a growing need.
“Unfortunately, Project Access Northwest was unable to secure diversified funding after the Pacific Hospital PDA grant came to a close,” explains Executive Director Gary Renville. “There remains a great need for this essential service, but our role was not sustainable without continued funding from other supporters.”
Since 2012, dental cases grew to encompass more than half of Project Access Northwest’s referrals, reflecting the huge, unmet need in our region. Severe dental pain is one of the top reasons underserved patients visit an emergency room. Many of these patients have repeat visits at great expense, when they could have been treated much more effectively at a dental clinic. While SCSC will manage referrals directly now in King County, Project Access Northwest is looking for new and innovative ways to help address the unmet need to dental care.
Dental program evolves, adapts
While Project Access Northwest continues to manage Northwest Kidney Center clients who need clearance for kidney transplants and also supports the Snohomish dental program, it will seek new, innovative and sustainable ways to help deliver dental care to low-income patients. Avenues we are exploring include offering restorative care, which is in high demand and has a great impact on quality of life.
Arcora Foundation, formerly Washington Dental Service Foundation, has awarded Project Access Northwest a planning grant of $15,000 to help us explore these new options.
Initial planning is underway for a “dental summit” to assess needs, barriers, possibilities and funding opportunities. Attendees may include: Public Health—Seattle & King County; UW Dental Residency; Lahai Health (formerly Puget Sound Christian Clinic); Northwest Kidney Centers; Seattle King County Dental Society; Arcora Foundation; selected board members and staff.