Dental clinic expanding at Community Health Care Center

An expanded dental clinic and a new dentist are coming to the Community Health Care Center.

The county is leasing a space in the Machinery Row building at 202 2nd Ave. S. and it’s currently being renovated.

The contract for the new dentist is on Tuesday’s County Commission agenda. Mark McCarthy was going to start in May, but is able to start sooner, according to Trista Besich, director at the CHCC.

The employment agreement on Tuesday’s agenda is effective Feb. 28, 2018 through March 2020 for a first year annual base salary of $150,000.

The new clinic will have six operatories, up from the current three, Besich said, and should be open around the end of April or early May.

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CHCC is also finalizing the agreement with the Great Falls Public Schools district for a school-based health center at Paris Gibson Education Center.

Besich said they’re planning an open house for the center that’s scheduled to open April 4.

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The center will a satellite location for CHCC and will be the first school-based health center in Cascade County.

The second school-based health center is set to open in August at Giant Springs Elementary.

The CHCC received a federal grant to provide service to underserved/underinsured people and the CHCC is funding the project, not the school district, chief operating officer Kelsey Gummer told commissioners in February.

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Drew Uecker, principal at Paris Gibson, told commissioners that half of students at the school don’t have a primary care physician.

The school-based health center will offer mental health services and Uecker told commissioners that’s critical since the school dealt with two suicide attempts in late February.

About a quarter of seniors at Paris Gibson live on their own, without access to health care, Uecker told commissioners.

The school-based center is one of several ways the CHCC is working to educate the community about health resources and improve access to care.

The CHCC is co-located with the City-County Health Department, but is federally funded. The center is open to all local residents, but focus on ensuring the underinsured or uninsured have access to comprehensive primary and preventive medical, dental and behavioral health care.

The CHCC serves 3,800 unique patients and has about 13,000 annual encounters. Besich said they’re hoping to grow to serve more area residents and coordinate care with other local providers.