GOSHEN — Cavities aren’t the only voids that need a filling.

Beginning in January, Maple City Health Care Center’s new dental program will fill gaps in dental care for 2,000 Goshen area residents each year.

One gap in care is a lack of dental care for young children. Another gap is affordable dental care for low-income families. A third gap is dental care for people who speak Spanish, according to a release from Maple City Health Care Center.

To fill these gaps in dental care, Maple City plans to hire a dentist, hygienists, and dental assistants. Maple City has purchased a house next door to one of its current sites (Vista Community Health Center). The center will renovate the house into space for three dental chairs, a waiting room and laboratory space. The center will then purchase dental equipment needed for both preventative and restorative dental care.

“We provide a discount based on a family’s income to ensure that everyone can afford our care,” said Dr. James Nelson Gingerich, Maple City’s guardian of vision. “We will hire bilingual dental providers as well as interpreters so that we can provide dental care for people who prefer to speak Spanish.”

“Increasing access to dental care is part of our mission to foster healthy community because oral health is important to overall health.”

Many studies show, for example, that people who have poor oral health, such as gum disease or tooth loss, have higher rates of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke compared with people with good oral health, Gingerich said. 

Two weeks ago, Maple City Health Care Center’s new dental program received a boost from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County. The Foundation approved a grant of $156,000 to purchase dental equipment.

“The first grant for a project like this is normally the hardest for us to obtain,” Gingerich said. “The Community Foundation was bold enough to be the first to contribute to Maple City’s dental project.”

“Maple City Health Care Center continues to serve our community by improving the health of children and families,” said Pete McCown, president of the Community Foundation. “We’re thrilled to be able to support their mission with this grant, which we hope will open doors to better health for local residents.”

In addition to filling gaps in care, the new dental program will improve the quality of other types of care at Maple City.

“We’ve seen dramatic increases in quality as we have integrated primary care with behavioral health care here at Maple City,” Gingerich said. “Now we want to integrate oral health care with the rest of our services. Locating our dental program next to Vista will help this integration.”

“When our dentist sees a child who is behind on immunizations, the dental staff can send the child next door for an immediate vaccination. When a physician at Vista sees cavities during a child’s well visit, the family can walk a few steps to check in for a dental exam.”

Maple City plans to begin offering dental care in mid-January as staffing allows. At first, Maple City will offer dental care for people who are currently patients at one of the center’s two sites. Later, Maple City will add new patients as capacity allows.

“We are searching for dental staff, especially Spanish speakers,” Gingerich said. “We encourage our friends and neighbors to tell us about people they know who might like to work for us.”

Maple City Health Care Center fosters a healthy community by providing and promoting high quality, affordable, integrated, and accessible health care. The Community Foundation of Elkhart County seeks to improve the quality of life in Elkhart County by inspiring generosity.

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