Cottage Grove clinic offers free dental services to Drain students
In an era where a free lunch often comes with a sales pitch or strings attached, a free dental appointment can seem unbelievable.
However, 21 North Douglas students have had a combined total of 80 free dental appointments so far this school year that have ranged from general checkups to crowns, pulled teeth and root canals.
The free dental care comes to these students from the South Lane Children’s Dental Clinic in Cottage Grove. The nonprofit clinic opened in 2012, beginning with services to South Lane School District students and opening up to nearby school districts later. Via communications between the Cottage Grove district administration and North Douglas Superintendent John Lahley, the North Douglas School District and its students were invited into the partnership at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.
Though fewer than two dozen are participating at this time, 121 students met preliminary qualifications based on need. District leadership is excited about the new program and is eager to get more families and students participating.
“It’s been an awesome program. We’re working on getting those numbers up, but people have a hard time believing it’s truly free,” said Jody Cyr, North Douglas Elementary principal. “This is a service that makes a difference in kids’ lives and they (clinic staff) always do what they say they’re going to do.”
Mr. Cyr hopes the district eventually reaches 70 to 80 North Douglas students as patients.
The South Lane Children’s Dental Clinic is operated consistently by two part-time employees, a dental hygienist and a dental care coordinator, several days a week. A cadre of nine dentists volunteers on a rotating basis, serving the various needs of students.
In a recent video produced about the clinic, founding dentist Dr. Park McClung said children in our area often have far greater dental needs than children in developing and poorer countries, like Haiti, where he has served as a dental aid volunteer.
Mr. Cyr said many of the students from his school have never had a dentist appointment. Tooth pain and dental problems during a school day can derail a student’s attention and focus in class.
Getting children to the Cottage Grove clinic is an extra task the North Douglas school has gladly taken on to get kids and families the care they need.
Mr. Cyr said about three to five students are scheduled for appointments on a given morning. The school district coordinates the transportation either with a staff member or volunteer driver. However, emergency services can and have been scheduled and treated on the same day.
“I’m very glad they asked us to be a part of this program,” Mr. Cyr said.
Families interested in participating in the South Lane Children’s Dental Clinic program should speak with Mr. Cyr at the elementary school, 541-836-2213. For more information on the South Lane Children’s Dental Clinic, visit its Facebook page, or watch the Rick Dancer video:
This article was written for the North Douglas School District by Douglas ESD Communications.