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Oral health clinic moving to Oshawa

New clinic for low income seniors

A Durham Region oral health clinic is moving to Oshawa in order to expand its services and better meet the needs of the community.

Durham regional council voted in favour of relocating and expanding the Oral Health Division, including the Oral Health Clinic and staff office space in order to accommodate the Ontario Senior’s Dental Care Program (OSDCP), according to a Durham Region report.

The current site at 1615 Dundas St. E. in Whitby will be relocated to Midtown Mall at 200 John St. W. in Oshawa. The recommendation comes prior to approval from the province for funding the capital costs related to the OSDCP.

According to the report, the current location has a number of ongoing challenges, including issues related to plumbing, flooding and the HVAC system, mechanical issues with the elevator often breaking down, and safety concerns due to only one exit/entry point.

The new Oshawa site is under 9,000 square feet and can be designed to accommodate all staff, with ample clinic space for seven operatories, consult rooms, meeting space, and an extended client waiting area.

The space is on the ground level, improving accessibility for both seniors and families with young children. It has multiple entries and exits, which addresses some safety concerns of the current Oral Health Clinic location, and has ample free parking.

The relocation and expansion of the clinic will cost approximately $2.3 million in advance of receiving provincial funding approval.

According to the report, Oshawa has the greatest proportion of seniors aged 65 and older living in low-income households in Durham Region.

The province announced the OSDCP in April 2019 to provide oral health services to eligible low-income seniors. The OSDCP is delivered through public health units and local community health centres.

Seniors 65 years and older with an annual income of $19,300 (for a single person), or a family income of $32,300 (for a couple), or less are eligible to receive oral health services provided by public health units.

The OSDCP is being rolled out in two stages: Stage I was launched in November 2019 and leverages existing infrastructure, and Stage II will expand the program through capital investments that will ensure adequate infrastructure to provide care for eligible seniors in each public health unit. Durham Region Health Department’s application for provincial funding was submitted under Stage II in January 2020, which was subsequently revised in March 2020 as requested by the Ministry of Health, with the status of the application still pending, according to the report.

Barry Bryan Associates has been hired by the Durham Region Works Department to provide the design, tender documents, and construction cost estimate for the new Oral Health Clinic and Administrative Office. A final design will be ready by mid-July 2020 with construction set to begin in August 2020.

To date, three dental assistants and two full-time dental hygienists have been hired. Recruitment for the full-time dentists has begun but is currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recruitment for a full-time clerk and administrative assistant have also been delayed.

Oral Health Clinic staff have begun to see senior clients and have provided oral health services to 110 seniors to date. However, due to the current pandemic, the Oral Health Clinic is not currently seeing any Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) or OSDCP clients.