The Fourth of July marks a day of celebration, and some news that emerged from Sunbury and Danville this week is worthy of its own celebratory fireworks.
The Susquehanna River Valley Dental Health Clinic is expanding in Sunbury with financial assistance from Geisinger, which closed its general dentistry services in Danville last year.
The clinic, which provides low-cost dental care to Medicaid and low-income patients has received a $200,000 donation from Geisinger that was spent to purchase the building at 335 Market Street, where it has operated since 2009.
The first phase construction of a pediatric dentistry wing on the second floor of the building will begin within the next few weeks. Plans include an interactive kid-friendly waiting room to accommodate the 6,000 young patients served by the clinic each year.
The downtown Sunbury clinic sees 900 to 1,000 patients per month from Northumberland, Union and Snyder counties. All of the patients are enrolled in Medicaid or are low-income. Aside from the Sunbury clinic, only about a dozen dentists in the four-county region treat Medicaid patients, and not all accept new patients. The clinic recently partnered with the United Way to serve Wood-Mode employees who were left jobless and without insurance when the Kreamer plant abruptly closed in May.
The clinic began its non-profit mission in 2009 with four treatment rooms. With the planned renovations, the clinic is set to expand to 14 treatment rooms staffed by 18 employees, including five full- and part-time dentists who treat more than 1,000 patients a month. The goal is to add pediatric equipment, including lasers to replace drills, and hire an oral surgeon.
According to the state Department of Human Services, 34,948 people are enrolled for Medicaid services in the three-county region served by the dental clinic.
Many of the children in these families would not receive dental services if the River Valley Dental Health Clinic did not exist. Yet dental health is a vital component of overall health. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some other serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, as well as pregnancy and birth issues, such as premature birth and low birth weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The mission of the River Valley Dental Health Clinic is vital, and the continuing efforts of all who worked hard to establish, maintain, expand and support its service to children and adults across the region deserve our recognition and celebration.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.