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(L–R) Noah Letwin, DDS, Ph.D.; Amy Winston, DDS; and Bart Johnson, DDS, M.S. are partners at Seattle Special Care Dentistry and were instrumental in helping establish the dental specialty clinic at Swedish Community Specialty Clinic. They are longtime volunteers with Project Access Northwest.
When Bart Johnson and Amy Winston decided to open their dental specialty practice in 2009, they knew they wanted to work with dental residents, and they knew they wanted to provide uncompensated care for low-income patients.
Through a partnership with Swedish, Seattle-King County Dental Society and Project Access Northwest, they were able to help develop a three-chair dental clinic at Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) in Seattle. The clinic serves patients in need of some form of specialty dentistry, usually extractions.
“Project Access Northwest has really made an impact with our clinic at Swedish,” explains Amy Winston. “Patients are referred to us from the community health centers, the mobile vans and the emergency departments. Project Access Northwest screens the patients, coordinates interpreters, and gets medical histories — everything! When the dentists see the patients at their clinic, they’re there to do dentistry. The patient is ready to treat. This has allowed us to have tremendous efficiency, a very low no-show rate and incredible satisfaction from the community health centers. Project Access has really impacted the dental community in a way that nobody ever has before. They make this kind of program sustainable.”
Bart Johnson agrees that coordination is essential. “I’ve been doing uncompensated care for most of my career and without a ‘navigator’ like Project Access Northwest, it’s almost impossible. The navigation falls to the dentist or the office staff, and it’s not an efficient way to run a dental operation of any kind. Having Project Access step in to do this makes so much sense because A: they’ve got it down to a science; B: this is what they do, so they’re experts at it. It’s been a dream working with them.”
As longtime volunteers the partners appreciate the flexibility that Project Access Northwest provides. “There’s something for everyone,” explains Noah Letwin. “If you want to do restorative dentistry, we have the kidney program. If you want to spend your time with residents and do extractions, you can volunteer at SCSC. We have some volunteers who come once a month and we have some who come up once a year, and it’s a good experience for both of them.”