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Children’s dental program to continue in Caroline

Posted on Friday, September 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

MILFORD—Children from low-income families will still be able to get dental services in Caroline, thanks to the Central Virginia Health Services, which will take on the patients of the Caroline Dental Clinic on Oct. 1.

The clinic, which is operated by the state health department and primarily serves children in low-income families, was scheduled to close in late June. However, the Caroline Board of Supervisors voted June 11 to appropriate $30,000 to keep it open until supporters could find additional funding. State health officials have said they can no longer afford to keep it open.

Central Virginia Health Services (CVHS), which operates a federally-funded health clinic in Bowling Green, had been seeking to take over the dental clinic. The board of directors of the CVHS voted June 18 to take over the clinic, but CVHS had to get approval from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to change the scope of CVHS services by adding the dental clinic.

A memo from Roderick V. Manifold, executive director of CVHS, to school and county officials reads, “I am very pleased to announced to all of you that Central Virginia Health Services has received notice from the Health Resources and Services Administration that we will be able to take over operation of Caroline Children’s Dental Program on October 1.”

The memo also says, “We are making preparations quickly to assure a smooth transition with the Rappahannock Area Health District.”

Dr. Brooke Rossheim, director of the Rappahannock Area Health District (RAHD), which includes the Caroline County Health Department and the dental clinic, addressed the July 8 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. He explained how the dental clinic had lost tens of thousands of dollars each year since 2010. He then asked the supervisors to provide another $39,000 in addition to the $30,000 they allocated in June. But the Board of Supervisors declined.

The clinic needs nearly $250,000 annually to operate, but it fell short of meeting expenses by $52,632 in 2010, $57,110 in 2011, $75,000 in 2012, and $41,488 in 2013, Rossheim told supervisors in July.

Manifold’s Aug. 28 memo adds, “I wanted all of you who so strongly support this program to be aware of this changeover and to be prepared to assure parents, community members…that the program will begin on time and will have a seamless transition to the health center’s management.”

The CVHS operates Caroline Family Practice in Bowling Green, one of 14 medical offices it has in 15 counties and three cities. It is organized as a nonprofit but receives federal funding, and its mission is to provide health care services to low-income people.

“We’ve never done a pediatric dental clinic,” Manifold told Caroline supervisors in July. “This is all new to us.”

The clinic has lost money over the past four years partly because the patient load has dropped from 820 in 2009 to 600 in recent months. It treats youngsters from kindergarten to grade 12 with Medicaid or FAMIS and those without insurance, and they average two or three visits a year to the clinic, which operates in space at the county’s community services center in Milford.