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L-R: Sarah Vander Beek, DMD, Chief Dental Officer at Neighborcare Health; Aarika Anderson, DMD, Dentist at Rainier Beach Medical & Dental Clinic; Ginny, patient.
When Ginny first came to Neighborcare Health at Rainier Beach Medical & Dental Clinic for dental care, she had several challenges. She had severe gum disease with teeth that were loose and not aligned correctly. As a result, she had ugly sores on the side of the mouth due to trauma, and she was having trouble eating. All of this was contributing to Ginny’s difficulty controlling her recently diagnosed Type II diabetes. She was also uninsured.
After examining her, Dr. Aarika Anderson, a dentist at Rainier Beach, referred her to Project Access Northwest. Ginny was a denture candidate, but she needed to have all her teeth pulled first. She was seen at Swedish Community Specialty Clinic in June 2013, and by November 2013, she had new dentures.
“It’s changed my life,” says Ginny. “I was always self-conscious about my teeth and it really affected my self-confidence. I lived on carbs like mashed potatoes and rice, since my mouth hurt so badly I couldn’t chew.” Since getting new dentures, Ginny is showing off her smile (including posing for pictures for the first time in years). She’s also gotten rid of chronic heartburn caused by not chewing her food thoroughly, and she’s eating healthier to get her diabetes under control.
“Ginny is a great patient,” says Dr. Anderson. “She was self-motivated to get this fixed and followed through with all of her treatment. Patients at community health centers can have multiple barriers in accessing dental care. It is wonderful to have such a positive patient with positive outcomes and great feedback. Project Access Northwest makes all the difference in helping these patients get access to the complex oral surgery they need.”
Sarah Vander Beek, DMD, Chief Dental Officer at Neighborcare Health, is enthusiastic about the work of Project Access Northwest and what it means to patients like Ginny.
“Having a program like this in our community is a lifeline for our patients. They’ve really opened the door for our patients to have access to oral surgery without all the financial barriers. We’re seeing a lot more people get the care they need promptly and professionally. I feel like it’s been a really good partnership.”
Ginny is self employed as a pet nanny and house sitter and hasn’t had health insurance since 2001. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Ginny became eligible for health insurance and now has coverage. Thanks to community partnerships like Neighborcare Health, Swedish Community Specialty Clinic and Project Access Northwest, Ginny is smiling regularly for the first time in years and especially enjoying the taste of pineapple—a favorite food she hasn’t been able to eat for years!