Dental help for low-income seniors in Peterborough: 4 takeaways from health unit meeting

During the September meeting of Peterborough Public Health’s board of governors, members learned that even through the pandemic, the Community Dental Health Clinic has been able to help hundreds of seniors with their oral care.

Here are four takeaways from this month’s meeting:

DELAYS IN SEEKING DENTAL TREATMENT AN ISSUE FOR LOW-INCOME SENIORS: Hallie Atter, acting director of health promotion, gave an update on the Ontario Senior Dental Care Program, explaining how it is designed to meet the needs of low-income seniors in the region. 

The program covers a variety of preventative medicine and treatment services, including dentures. Hallie said that the clients who attend the dental health clinic typically experience complex oral health issues due to delays in seeking treatment. This is often associated with limited insurance availability, she said. 

The clinic was closed for most of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the CDHC was still able to support 772 seniors with dental care.

ON AVERAGE, ONE PERSON IN THE PETERBOROUGH REGION EVERY NINE DAYS DUE TO DRUG POISONINGS: Hallie Atter, also acting director for health promotion, shared that on average, someone in the Peterborough region dies every nine days due to drug-poisonings.

In August, 46 people visited the emergency department due to drug poisonings and seven died due to suspected drug-poisonings. Atter said the Consumption and Treatment Service has been busy since opening in June. She said relationships with clients built by CTS staff as well as existing relationships with other partner agencies has increased trust in the service, but the CTS is unable to support inhalation services at this time. It is estimated that up to two out three people who use drugs are using inhalation methods and cannot consume at the CTS at this time.

HELPING CHILDREN WHO EXPERIENCE TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCES: Claire Townshend, acting manager of family and community health, told the board there is a connection between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and substance use later in life. 

ACEs are potentially traumatic experiences that occur in childhood and can lead to negative health and social outcomes. These can include abuse, neglect, and other adverse experiences in childhood. Prevention of ACEs can lead to a reduction in risky behaviours, such as substance use, and increase healthy behaviours later in life. To help prevent ACEs in our community, PPH will be working with partners and families to educate them on ACEs and implementing other evidence-based programs, such as nurse home visiting programs, and advocating for systems change to ensure all families have their basic need met.

COVID-19 WASTEWATER SIGNALS TRENDING DOWN IN THE COMMUNITY: While COVID transmission in the area remains moderate and has been holding steady for the summer, wastewater signals are trending down. Peterborough Public Health (PPH) began immunizing with the bivalent COVID-19 vaccine this week. PPH is administering the Moderna bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that protects against the original COVID-19 strain and the BA.1 variant. Residents are encouraged to review their eligibility for the vaccine online and receive their next dose when they become eligible.


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