Dental clinic offered to those in need
The Pierce County Public Health Department tried multiple solutions over the years in finding quality dental care for those who couldn't afford it.
"We did many things over the years, but for low income people, finding dental care was tough," said Lisa Raethke, a nurse with the department.
Dentists volunteered their time to place sealants around the county to grade students, but that wasn't enough.
"We continued to see the need being out there," she said.
Their solution came from a grant courtesy of the St. Croix Valley Foundation, which enabled the health department to purchase portable dental equipment.
The next step was finding a dentist and hygienist. Dr. Barb Tashjian said she would donate her time and the health department hired Jennie Borst as hygienist.
With that in place, the Pierce County Dental Health Clinic opened its doors to the public in October 2005. The clinic is open 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. two Mondays per month, and is available to those between the ages of 2-18.
"We wanted to target kids because we wanted to highlight the importance of regular dental care," Raethke said. "Good brushing and fluoride is great preventive things."
Services offered include dental screenings, fluoride treatments, cleaning and sealants. Small cavities can be filled on site, if needed.
Medical assistance is accepted and a sliding fee scale is available for those families below 185 percent of poverty who are not covered.
"No county tax dollars have been used to run the clinic," Raethke said, as donations and supplies came from anonymous donors, churches, dentists and grants. Two grants from the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation enabled the health department to purchase x-ray equipment and supplies needed for simple restorative work.
Raethke had high praise for the staff.
"Dr. Barb and Jennie are excellent," she said. "They're very good at educating kids. We get incredibly positive marks from parents.
"They make it a positive experience so they come back regularly, which is what it's all about."
For more information about the health clinic, contact Raethke at 273-6755.