|OlyCAP ORAL HEALTH CENTER
OlyCAP has suspended Oral Health Services at its clinics.
The clinic opened in 2006 and was hailed for its innovative partnership with Pierce and Peninsula Colleges to both provide oral health services and to train dental hygienists on the peninsula. The model for service and education was unique in the state. Patients were charged sliding scale fees according to income and the clinic was one of few area dental services that accepted Medicaid patients. Fees were never intended to cover the full costs of services and we supplemented fees by aggressively searching for external funds to subsidize care. Sources that helped support patient care included private donations, volunteer services by area dentists, support of partner organizations such as Olympic Medical Center, Pierce and Peninsula Colleges and United Way and United Good Neighbors. There were also contributions from local and state governments. The State Health Care Authority provided about $150,000 annually to support the sliding fees and funded Medicaid services for oral health which made up a substantial part of the clinic's business. Local governments in Sequim and Port Angeles contributed thousands of dollars to help support the service for area residents.
In 2010, there were over 5500 patient appointments and more than 1000 dental emergency visits. The clinic provided more than $1.4 million in care at customary local fees. About $460,000 in sliding scale fees were charged to patients. Support through external funds made up the difference and allowed the clinic to operate.
We knew our financial model was at risk in mid-2010, when the state budget process looked at removing Health Care Authority funding. When funding was restored during the budget process, we went to work with other partners in the community to apply for status as a Federally Qualified Health Center to develop a more secure source of support. The VIMO Clinic in Port Angeles has taken the lead in that application and the intent is to integrate dental services as part of a new Center.
"Suspending the service is a huge blow for health care access in the community," said Tim Hockett OlyCAP Ececutive Director. "In a very real sense, we are victims of our own success." The financial model depended on the funding provided through the state and on the ability to bill Medicaid. In December OlyCAP was notified that the state was terminating payments on the Health Care Authority Funding and suspending payments for most oral health services under Medicaid. In one month of operation without these supports, the clinic lost over $20,000.
The facility itself will be maintained so that it can be reopened under the Health center model and OlyCAP officials are working with Pierce and Peninsula Colleges to try to find some way of maintaining the educational support for the dental hygiene program.
For more information about our Dental Clinic Services contact:
OlyCAP Oral Health Center
228 W 1st St, Suite J (West Entrance)
Port Angeles, WA 98362