B.G. HealthCare expands to offer dental care to low-income adults

Free, limited services are for underinsured, uninsured residents

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

Published:

 

If you go

■ What: Open house, B.G. HealthCare’s free dental clinic.

■ When: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, April 21.

■ Where: 11117 N.E. 189th St. Suite 216, Battle Ground.

■ Details: 360-687-8941 or battlegroundhealthcare.org.

Dana Duback de Sanchez has never been able to keep up with the dental work she needs.

The Battle Ground woman usually can afford some of the work, but never enough to prevent her teeth from further deterioration.

Last year, she paid out of pocket for a couple of root canals but couldn't afford the crowns. She was hoping the teeth would hold up for six months until she could afford the work, but the they broke and needed to be pulled.

"I get one problem solved, but three more pop up because I can't afford to take care of it all at once," said Duback de Sanchez, 44.

But Friday morning, she had two teeth pulled that had been causing her pain — another was pulled two weeks ago — for free. Now, Duback de Sanchez said, she can focus on repairing her remaining teeth and preventing future problems.

The work was performed at the new Battle Ground HealthCare Dental Clinic, 11117 N.E. 189th St. Suite 216. The nonprofit Battle Ground HealthCare — established by the Meadow Glade Seventh-day Adventist Church — opened three years ago and provides chronic health care to about 200 adults living in north Clark County.

Since late November, however, Battle Ground HealthCare has been quietly creating a free dental clinic. After several months of recruiting volunteer dentists, dental assistants and hygienists and seeing a limited number of patients, Battle Ground HealthCare is ready to unveil its new clinic and open its doors to the community.

The dental clinic will provide limited dental services for free to low-income people ages 18 to 65 who live in north Clark County and are uninsured or underinsured. The clinic's services primarily include extractions and fillings, but the clinic will also provide some cleanings, provide necessary prescriptions and give education on the importance of dental hygiene.

For north county residents such as Duback de Sanchez, who works as a nanny and doesn't have dental insurance, the clinic is an answer to prayers.

"I'm just really grateful to have this service," she said. "Having this kind of thing in the community is awesome."

For now, the dental clinic will run for a few hours a week. As it recruits more dentists, assistants and hygienists, it will add more hours.

Like the medical clinic, the free dental clinic was created to meet the need of residents in north county and help relieve the other free clinics in the county, which have monthslong wait lists, said Ruthie Gohl, executive director of Battle Ground HealthCare.

The free dental clinic, like the medical clinic, operates entirely on donations and grants.

The clinic received a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington and a $7,500 grant from Kaiser Permanente. Donations also come in from local dental offices and people in the community.

The clinic was also furnished through donations.

When Clark College updated its dental hygienist clinic, the old equipment was donated to the clinic. A retiring dentist donated additional furniture, and Adventist Medical Center gave the clinic computers and phones, which are maintained by the medical center's IT staff. And after Hayes Cabinets in Woodland built and installed cabinets, the business sent the clinic an invoice with a zero on the "amount due" line, Gohl said.

"The community has supported this awesomely," she said.

And, in return, the clinic hopes to support people in the local community, like Duback de Sanchez.