BREWER, Maine — Students who have a toothache or other dental problems, or who just want a cleaning, don’t have to look far for care now that they can just walk down the hallway to the new dental clinic at Brewer Community School.
The official open house for the new dental clinic, operated in partnership with Penobscot Community Health Care, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 29, but it opened to students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade at the beginning of the school year.
“They’re busy,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said Monday. “There is a huge need for children’s dental care in this state.”
PCHC and the school department also run the Brewer School-Based Health Center at Brewer High School, which enrolls students from all over the region, that is staffed by a nurse practitioner and opened six years ago. Last year, the two groups learned PCHC would receive $234,862 in federal funds to support and improve the health care and dental programs offered at the schools in Brewer.
The federal funding, provided by the Affordable Care Act, helped to add equipment to exam rooms and to fund the dental program.
“It’s a full service dental clinic,” Lee said. “It looks just like a dentist office. They can do X-rays, cleanings, fillings. This is the only school-based dental clinic I know of in Maine.”
Many students in rural Maine come from underprivileged families, the working poor, and they don’t have access to quality health care and dental services, the superintendent said, adding that Brewer’s school-based clinics provide services to all students.
“There is no need for a child to be in pain,” Lee said.
Parents of students may enroll them in the school-based clinics program or students may get parental permission when they seek services. There is no immediate out-of-pocket cost for care, but those with insurance may be required to pay co-pays later. A sliding scale is used for those without insurance.
So far, around 400 students at Brewer Community School and others from the high school have enrolled, Jesse Hillman, medical assistant and coordinator, said Monday.
Having the two school-based clinics in Brewer has removed barriers for students who need all types of health care and is a cost-effective way to provide preventative health care, Lee said.
The enrollment form and more information about the Brewer School-Based Health Center is available at the school department’s website, brewerhs.org, under student services.