PCHC celebrates dental center expansion, federal ‘teaching center’ designation

Posted Aug. 10, 2011, at 11:36 p.m.
Erik Johnson, a dentist who is among four residents at Penobscot Community Health Care’s new accredited pediatric dental residency program, gives a tour of his office, which is specially designed to make children more comfortable during visits. Special touches include Disney decals, a child sized dental chair and a monitor for watching children’s movies and other programming.
Erik Johnson, a dentist who is among four residents at Penobscot Community Health Care’s new accredited pediatric dental residency program, gives a tour of his office, which is specially designed to make children more comfortable during visits. Special touches include Disney decals, a child sized dental chair and a monitor for watching children’s movies and other programming.
Gov. Paul LePage and the Rev. Robert Carlson celebrated major milestones in access to pediatric dental services during a reception Wednesday at Penobscot Community Health Care’s newly expanded Dental Center on Union Street in Bangor.
Gov. Paul LePage and the Rev. Robert Carlson celebrated major milestones in access to pediatric dental services during a reception Wednesday at Penobscot Community Health Care’s newly expanded Dental Center on Union Street in Bangor.

BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot Community Health Care had a lot to celebrate during a reception Wednesday evening conducted under a large white tent just outside its Dental Center on Union Street.

• The PCHS Dental Center has been expanded to include space for 19 new dental oratories, or work stations, bringing the total to 46. Nine of the new dental chairs are child sized and located in a section of the center specially designed for children.

• It recently has been designated one of only 11 “Teaching Health Centers” in the nation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

• Not only has it expanded its accredited dental residency program to accommodate six more residents, it also has launched Maine’s only two-year accredited pediatric dental residency with four residents now on board.

These are major milestones for a nonprofit health organization established 13 years ago with only one doctor and four other staff members, the Rev. Bob Carlson, PCHC president, said Wednesday.

PCHC expects to serve an additional 3,000 children during the first year of its pediatric dental program by hiring dentists that have been trained in pediatric dentistry, orthodontics and surgery, as well as child psychology and behavior management, a level of care Carlson and other PCHC officials say is not not currently offered through an affordable care program.

The celebration featured a number speakers, including PCHC officials, federal government representatives and academic leaders.

Gov. Paul LePage delivered the keynote address. He applauded PCHC for the steps it is taking to meet the health care needs of some of Maine’s most vulnerable people, children and low-income residents in particular.

LePage said, however, that he was perhaps more impressed by the range of services PCHS offers. The result, he said, said is a true support system not available in many parts of the state.

“That’s the one thing I don’t think you take enough credit for in Bangor,” he said.

Carlson said that dental care is only one aspect of PCHC’s health care offerings.

“We treat the whole person, from head to toe, from psychiatry to podiatry — and oral care as well,” Carlson said after Wednesday’s festivities.

Fifteen clinics in the Bangor area offer a wide range of services including family medicine, dental, pediatrics, geriatrics, nursing home care, psychiatry, mental health and substance abuse services, physical therapy, lab, X-ray, pharmacy and health care for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, according to a PCHC news release.

It also has a team of medical specialists who deliver a wide range of specialty services including allergy, gynecology, orthopedics, podiatry, dermatology and osteopathic manipulative therapy.

Fees are based on a sliding scale and services are provided regardless of ability to pay.

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