Freeman questions dental care

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

WINTON – The public health authority could be getting into the dental business.

During last week’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Hertford County Commissioner Curtis Freeman and Hertford County Public Health Authority (HCPHA) Director Curtis Dickson both agreed heading into the dental arena might be important for the health of the county’s children.

&uot;The Hertford County Public Health Authority is in the business of taking care of the health and well being of the citizens, correct?&uot; Freeman asked.

Dickson said that was true.

&uot;Several citizens have contacted me about dental health,&uot; the commissioner said. &uot;It seems that no dentist in Hertford County is accepting new patients.&uot;

Freeman said he had personally called each dentist office in the county, without identifying himself, saying simply that he had a child that needed their teeth cleaned. He said each dentist office told him they were not accepting new patients.

&uot;What are we suppose to do about dental care for the children of Hertford County?&uot; Freeman asked. &uot;I think it is a shame for citizens to have to travel to another city or to Virginia to get dental care.&uot;

The commissioner then asked if there were anything the public health authority could do about dental care.

Dickson said the HCPHA board had identified dental care as an issue in Hertford County, but there were pitfalls standing in the way of getting that care started. He also said many dentists in Hertford County were not accepting Medicaid patients because the program did not pay enough to provide the cost of the services.

&uot;The startup costs are expensive,&uot; Dickson said. &uot;There would have to be a building for care, equipment purchased and hiring a dentist.&uot;

He said the agency was currently working with the Martin-Tyrell-Washington District Health Department to get grant funds to provide a mobile van that would provide service to the three counties of that district plus Hertford and Northampton counties.

&uot;The Public Health Authority would love to start a dental health clinic,&uot; Dickson said. &uot;We don’t have the funds for startup or for dentists.&uot;

Freeman said he felt the county’s citizens were &uot;basically being denied dental care&uot; because of overcrowding or &uot;being booked up.&uot;

Dickson again said the Authority would be interested, but would need to find a way to pay upfront costs. He said the money could be recovered after services began.

&uot;Check into this and see what you can do,&uot; Commission Chairman DuPont Davis said.

Dickson said he would.