Health unit location to offer seniors, youth dental care
Construction of a new dental suite at the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s Gilbertson Drive location in Simcoe should be completed by August.
Planning for the new dental suite, which will be used to help deliver the provincially-funded seniors’ dental program, began in 2020. However, work was halted in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the board of health was told Tuesday.
Construction of the new suite, which will included an X-ray machine and is being built with $300,000 in provincial funding, resumed in 2021, a report prepared by health unit staff says. The province also provided $323,000 for a new dental suite in the health unit’s Dunnville satellite office.
The seniors’ dental program was introduced by the province in 2019 to provide care at little or no cost to seniors with financial issues. The program, which is 100 per cent funded by the provincial government, aims to prevent chronic disease, reduce infections and improve quality of life while, at the same time, reducing the burden on the health care system.
The health unit receives $537,900 annually from the province to operate the program.
In Haldimand-Norfolk, the program has been delivered through fee-for-service agreements between the health unit and local dentists. At the May meeting of the board Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp wondered if the fee-for-service could continue and asked health unit staff to get clarification from provincial officials.
On Tuesday, health unit staff, in a report prepared for the board of health, said that fee-for-service arrangements are not permitted. However, the board was allowed to enter into temporary partnership contracts with service providers to launch the program.
The health board has fee-for-service arrangements in place to ensure the program continues until the new dental suite is completed and becomes operational.
According to health unit staff, 181 seniors accessed the program between January and April 2022. There have been 263 visits and the cost of services provided amounted to just over $197,000.
In addition to the seniors’ program, the new dental suite will be used for the Healthy Smiles Ontario Program which, in Haldimand-Norfolk, provides oral health services to approximately 3,500 youth and children 17-years of age and younger a year.