Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today called for better access to dental care and highlighted a proposed dental clinic in Medford that is one step closer to being built. Merkley and Senator Ron Wyden succeeded in including $200,000 for La Clinica del Valle Family Health Care Center in Medford in a Senate bill that recently passed out of committee. The new clinic will meet the growing demand of new dental patients in the area and provide additional dental training services to students.
“The La Clinica del Valle Family Health Center has a long list of people looking to get in the door and receive dental care,” said Merkley. “This project will double the clinic’s ability to meet the needs of families in Medford, and provide training to future Oregon dentists. I’ll continue working to get this bill passed in the Senate to put this money to work for families in Medford.”
“Although La Clinica offers dental care on a sliding scale, we can serve only a fraction of those needing dental services in Jackson County,” said CEO of La Clinica Brenda Johnson. “These funds will help us build greater capacity to serve thousands of people, increase our ability to train a dental clinical workforce, and strengthen the overall oral healthcare of this community. For that, and much more, we remain sincerely grateful!”
According to a recent study by the Pew Center, 17 million low-income children across the country do not receive necessary dental care. In 2007, 35 percent of low-income children in Oregon went without adequate dental care and 35 percent of Oregon third-graders had untreated cavities.
The funds passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee will enable La Clinica del Valle Family Health Center to open a 30-room dental clinic, which will house 23 new dental health professionals. This new site will serve 7,200 dental patients per year—increasing current dental capacity by 99 percent and helping address a 3,500 person waiting list. This new facility will help train future dental health professionals by serving as a practicum site for dental students from Oregon Health & Science University and Rogue Community College.
The Labor, Health and Human Services & Education Appropriations bill must still pass the full Senate, be merged with a companion bill from the House, and be signed by the President before it becomes law and the funds become available.