SPOKANE, Wash. — Access to dental health services for uninsured adults has reached crisis levels across the Inland Northwest, including a growing number of Spokane County residents. People’s Clinic, a community service health care project of the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State College of Nursing, has received a one-year $76,519 grant from the Washington State Health Care Authority to offer dental care and expanded health care services to a growing number of uninsured and underserved local residents.

The grant provides $46,000 for medical services and $30,000 for dental services. The funds will allow the clinic to hire its first paid part-time family nurse practitioner. Ninety percent of the dental service funds will support adult patients in need of preventative dental care and 10 percent for those in need of urgent dental care. Dental care services will be available to People’s Clinic patients of record.

“Uninsured and underinsured adults have little access to preventative and restorative dental services in the Spokane area,” said Connie Mix Clark, RDH Health Care Authority Dental Program manager. “People’s Clinic will identify patients needing dental care services and refer them to Dr. Janie Johnson, a local dentist. Dr. Johnson will treat established People’s Clinic patients using $30,000 in reimbursement funds allocated from the State Health Care Authority grant.”

“Dental care is so important in the overall health of our patients,” said Loly Reyes-Gonzalez, Outreach Services manager and author of the grant. “Preventative and restorative dental care can significantly improve patients nutritional intake and positively affect their self-image.”

People’s Clinic family nurse practitioners will identify and refer patients needing preventative, emergent or urgent dental care services to Johnson’s practice where patients will receive dental services based upon a sliding fee scale and $20 co-payment. The screening will be conducted on the first Wednesday of each month beginning Dec. 5. Patients will be scheduled through Johnson’s office to accommodate patient and office schedules.

In addition to dental care, the grant also funds the addition of a part-time FNP. The added provider will ease the reliance on volunteer help while providing patients with a consistent provider. The clinic currently treats about 250 patients each month. Since opening in September 1998, People’s Clinic has been staffed by Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of Nursing faculty, students and community volunteers.

The clinic, funded entirely by private donors, serves the health care needs of Spokane County residents, regardless of their ability to pay. People’s Clinic is located on the second floor of the YWCA, 829 W. Broadway Ave., and is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Established in 1968, the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/WSU College of nursing is the nation’s first, oldest and most comprehensive nursing education consortium. The College of nursing offers baccalaureate, graduate and professional development course work to nursing students enrolled through its four consortium partners, Eastern Washington University, Gonzaga University, Washington State University and Whitworth College. Each year, the College educates more than 600 graduate and upper-division undergraduate students and prepares more entry-level nurses than any other educational institution in the state. For more information, visit the Web site at nursing.wsu.edu.