Letter to the editor | Thank you for dentists' donations

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the many dentists in Whatcom County who donate dental care to low-income, uninsured community members.

Dental care is a significant need for uninsured adults in our community. In a recent survey of low-income residents in Whatcom County, affordable dental care was ranked “as extremely important” and “very hard to get.” The perceived service gap for affordable dental care was higher than that of housing help, medical care and living-wage jobs.

That’s why dentists who participate in the Donated Adult Dental program and Whatcom Project Access Dental make such a difference in people’s lives: They help to close this gap.

The Donated Adult Dental Program is coordinated by Interfaith Community Health Center  and has been around since 2006. Dentists volunteer their time to see adult patients at the ICHC clinic 2 or 3 days a month. In 2011, 28 dentists donated care through this program, providing services valued at $54,440 to 170 patients.

Whatcom Project Access Dental was launched last July and is coordinated by Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare Access. In this program, dentists treat patients within their own practice during regular business hours and decide the number of patients they will see each month. In the program’s first year, 21 dentists saw 116 patients, donating services valued at $72,000.

Both of these programs are partnerships with the Mount Baker District Dental Society, which also deserves recognition for its commitment to dental access.

If you know a dentist who participates in either of these programs—or donates care in some other way—please acknowledge his or her invaluable service to our community.

It is this kind of generosity that makes Whatcom County such a wonderful place to live.

Lara Welker, Program Manager
Whatcom Alliance for Healthcare Access

Meagan Swanlund, Dental Access Coordinator
Interfaith Community Health Center

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