LCH to Open Dental Center in Southern Chester County
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted Kennett Square’s La Comunidad Hispana (LCH) a $350,000 award to open a new dental center to serve southern Chester County.
This fall, low-income residents of southern Chester County will now have access to dental care—a service that is a crucial need in this part of the county. Many uninsured clients, who must travel to Coatesville or West Chester to access the nearest available services, simply go without.
“Nearly half of our clients have not seen a dentist in a year or more,” said LCH Medical Director Cindy Schmeltz, DNP, FNP-C, CRNP. “We know that oral care is an essential component of overall health. We see so many dental problems during patient visits, and now we will be able to get them the care they need right in their own backyard.”
President and CEO Alisa Jones commented on the positive long-term impact of providing dental health services. “Dental care will help LCH reach even more underserved individuals and strengthen the overall health of our community,” said Jones. “Patients need a safe place to learn healthy habits and pass along these habits to their children. This won’t happen without dental care that is accessible regardless of their insurance status, and without services that are available in English and in Spanish.”
Based on the 2015 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, there are 17,000 adults in southern Chester County who need a dental visit. Additionally, 15 percent of children, or 3,300, were not examined by a dentist within the past year.
LCH completed a needs assessment last fall and began the application for federal funding. Thanks to the funding award, the 43-year-old Federally Qualified Health Center will expand into dental care for the community no later than October 2016. The LCH Dental Center will be located on McFarlan Road in Kennett Square in space that will be leased from Dr. Robert Krauss, an endodontist with over 30 years of experience in southern Chester County.
Services will be offered to community members using the same model as LCH’s existing services – Person-Centered Services. LCH will accept Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, and private insurance. Uninsured patients will pay for services received on a sliding scale, and no patient will be turned away for inability to pay. Four full-time employees will staff the site: one dentist, one dental hygienist, and two dental assistants. LCH is now interviewing for these positions.
Oral care has been a part of LCH’s long-term goals for many years. “With the leadership of the Board, support from engaged partners such as Dr. Robert Krauss, and committed staff, our vision is now a reality,” said Jones. Board Chair Paul F. Huberty commented, “We are going to have a very busy summer, but we are ready. LCH now has the resources and experience that we need to bring essential dental services to the most vulnerable in our community.”
LCH has served southern Chester County for more than 40 years as a multi-service, bilingual nonprofit that changes lives through Person-Centered Care: health care, social assistance, and education and workforce development. 731 West Cypress Street Kennett Square, PA 19348 610.444.7550 LaComunidadHispana.org