Swedish Introduces Specialty Dental Care for Low-Income Adults to Get Free Help from Volunteer Denti

Swedish Introduces Specialty Dental Care for Low-Income Adults to Get Free Help from Volunteer Dentists and Community Contributors

SEATTLE, Oct. 21, 2011 – Swedish this month added adult specialty dental care to the extensive list of free services available to low-income uninsured and underinsured patients at the Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC). This is the only specialty clinic of it kind in the Puget Sound area.

Staffed by local volunteer dentists and oral surgeons from the Seattle-King County Dental Society, the dental clinic focuses on complex specialty care. The focus is starting first with difficult tooth extractions and plans to add root canals in the future. The clinic has three fully outfitted dental surgery and treatment rooms paid for by community grants and the Swedish Foundation.

“Severe mouth pain related to dental problems is one of the most common problems seen in hospital emergency rooms,” said Jay Fathi, M.D., Swedish Medical Director for Primary Care and Community Health. “Often, despite their best efforts, emergency department physicians cannot fully treat patients who have active oral infections or abscesses until a problem tooth is removed.”

SCSC is located on the ninth floor of the Heath Building at 801 Broadway, part of the Swedish/First Hill campus. Specialty Dental services are available by referral from a primary care dentist and by appointment only. Swedish estimates some 25 volunteer dental professionals will see up to 450 patients in the first year of the clinic’s operation. As many as 45 volunteer dentists and oral surgeons will treat an estimated 2,000 patients in year two.

SCSC opened in September 2010 with medical services, but because of the known need for specialty dental care in our region the clinic was designed with space that would accommodate three dental chairs. Swedish partners with Project Access Northwest (PANW) for operational support. PANW personnel provide effective patient triage and case management, and work with SCSC support staff to help maintain dentist schedules and set initial visits and follow-ups.

“Some community health centers offer primary care dental for adults, but no one is doing specialty care,” said Sallie Neillie, executive director of Project Access Northwest. “With the health-care safety net slowly being eliminated, hospitals have no place to send these patients, so we had to step up to meet a growing need.”

The dental clinic is designed as a referral-based service. Patients likely to use it come through the Swedish system, or through a variety of low-income community clinics authorized to refer patients.

Swedish sponsors a dental residency program in partnership with Drs. Bart Johnson and Amy Winston of Seattle Special Care Dentistry. Launched in 2009, the program was developed to provide recent dental school graduates with an advanced education in the care of medically complex patients and to give care to the underserved. Three residents per year are trained in the program and they are already an integral part of the SCSC service.

Community Financial Support

SCSC and partner Project Access Northwest received four major contributions that enabled the clinic to open three fully outfitted dental surgery and treatment rooms:

  • Washington Dental Service Foundation awarded the clinic a grant of $182,103. The Foundation is a non-profit funded by Washington Dental Service and dedicated to significant, long-lasting improvements in community oral health.
  • Seattle-King County Dental Foundation provided $51,149 to support the purchase of dental equipment.
  • The Pacific Hospital Preservation & Development Authority provided $51,000 for staffing at PANW. The grant supports a case manager/dental assistant who triages patients to the clinic and supports the dentists and oral surgeons.
  • Burkhart Dental Supply made an in-kind contribution exceeding $12,000. It donated the facility space planning, build-out coordination, equipment selection and installation, and equipment training and maintenance.

“The WDS Foundation applauds PANW’s and Swedish’s coordinated effort to improve access to specialty dental care as a component of a patient’s health care. Increasingly, the medical community is recognizing that good oral health is a critical aspect of overall health,” said Dr. Russell Maier, Washington Dental Service Foundation Board Chair.

Swedish Community Specialty Clinic (SCSC) Background

Known previously as the Mother Joseph Clinic on the Swedish/Cherry Hill campus, SCSC treats low-income uninsured or underinsured patients exclusively. It offers free advanced medical care provided by volunteer specialists from Swedish and many other local physician groups.

“SCSC is a vital resource for people who have no other options for specialized care,” said Dr. Fathi. “By combining several services under one roof and through innovations such as electronic health records, we can truly make a difference in many patients’ lives.”

SCSC, which cares for patients with appointments on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., is near advanced medical imaging facilities and the offices of specialty-care professionals. Swedish estimates more than 2,000 patients will be seen at the facility each year for dermatology, general surgery, hand surgery, orthopedics, podiatric surgery, and dental services.

“The Specialty Clinic is a testament to Swedish’s commitment to serve the entire community,” said Swedish President and CEO Rod Hochman, M.D. “We want to set a new standard in community health and clearly demonstrate that charity care is at the core of our non-profit mission, which continues even in an unstable economy.”

In 2010, Swedish provided more than $112 million in community benefit services, including more than $25 million in charity care.

For more information on specialty dental services, call Project Access Northwest at 206-788-4559 or visit www.swedish.org/Services/Swedish-Community-Specialty-Clinic.

About Swedish

Swedish has grown over the last 101 years to become the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area with 11,000 employees, more than 2,800 physicians and 1,700 volunteers. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); freestanding emergency departments and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; Swedish Visiting Nurse Services; and Swedish Medical Group – a network of more than 70 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. Swedish opened a new emergency department and medical office building (MOB) on its Ballard campus in November 2010 and a new MOB and hospital in the Issaquah Highlands in July 2011. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org, www.swedishcares.orgwww.facebook.com/swedishmedicalcenter or www.twitter.com/swedish.  

In 2007, Swedish embarked upon an ambitious $100 million fundraising campaign. Campaign investments are used to support a wide variety of initiatives throughout the health-care system, including cancer, heart and vascular, women and children, neuroscience, and orthopedics as well as programs to support underserved populations. To date, the campaign has secured gifts totaling more than $74 million. For more information or to support the campaign, visit www.campaignforswedish.org.

About Project Access Northwest

Founded in 2006, Project Access Northwest (PANW) provides a workable solution to one of the most pressing health-care problems facing low-income and uninsured people in our community – access to needed specialty-care services. This program builds on the safety net of primary care provided by the community health and public health clinics in King County. Through PANW, low-income uninsured patients – and the underinsured who have Medicaid or Basic Health but don’t have access to scarce specialty resources – have access to needed specialty health care and donated ancillary, inpatient and outpatient hospital services. For more information, visit www.projectaccessnw.org.


Media Coverage

  • To watch the video of and read the transcript from a related story that KING Television (Channel 5, NBC) aired Oct. 21, 2011 click here.
  • To read a related article posted Feb. 15, 2012 on the Seattle/LocalHealthGuide Web site, click here.
  • To read a related article posted Feb. 16, 2012 on The Seattle Times Web site, click here.
  • To read a related article posted April 5, 2012 on the Real Change Web site, click here.
Dana Lewis | Swedish Blog Administrator
Hi Kelly, please contact Project Access Northwest at 206-788-4559 for resources.
2/23/2015 10:04:23 AM
Kelly Turner
I am in need of pretty severe dental work due to the treatments I have received from battling brain cancer. Radiation and chemo have taken a toll on my teeth, I am only 28 years old. I do not have the money to put into my teeth due to my situation and medical bills, however my teeth are worsening by the day and I need to find a way towards help. Any information as to if I qualify for assistance would be greatly appreciated. :)
2/21/2015 12:28:20 AM
Dana Lewis | Swedish Blog Administrator
Hi Nichole, please contact Project Access Northwest for more information at 206-788-4559.
2/6/2015 5:15:49 PM
I desperately need dental help. I'm a single mother and have recently enrolled in college to create a better life for my daughter and myself. I attended Swedish Medical Center a few years ago for drug treatment. I have been clean and sober for some time now but the severe dental problems remain. Please please please help me. I am desperate and have been searching online for any available help. It's rapidly approaching unbearable levels. Thank you.
2/6/2015 4:36:31 PM
I have need of an implant on tooth #9.The tooth is unattached and sitting in the gum.

I am low income but do not qualify for Medicaid.

Where can I get medical and financial assistance?
10/24/2013 4:07:50 PM
Dana Lewis | Swedish Blog Administrator
Hi Kerry, please contact Project Access Northwest for more information at 206-788-4559.
9/9/2013 11:37:46 AM
Kerry Wisner
I really need help dentally. I am on antibiotics to get rid of my infection- there is even swelling in the roof of my mouth. Before the antibiotics, I was having 8+ pain on a constant basis. I really don't care how many teeth have to be pulled to get rid of my dental problem which is affecting my ability to enjoy life. I find it hard to eat on either side of my mouth. I definitely can't on the right side. If you could help me, that would be great. Molina doesn't cover dental. Please contact me soon whether you can help me or not. Thank you.
9/8/2013 3:51:19 PM
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