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Rockwood has a reason to smile

Newly-opened Wallace Dental Clinic provides care to both the insured and uninsured -

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Ramon Erbella works as a dental assistant at the Wallace Dental Clinic, which is servicing about 24 patients a day.The Wallace Medical Concern, a non-profit community health center, had the residents of Rockwood beaming as it hosted an oral fair Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 9, in celebration of National Community Health Center Week and the newly-opened Wallace Dental Clinic.

The clinic, located on the Rosewood Plaza at 18139 N.E. Couch St., opened its doors on June 29. Acting as a community health clinic, it provides preventive care for children and adults, diagnostic services, restorative and rehabilitative treatment, and emergent care for the people of Rockwood.

“A lot of our residents have barriers to acquiring health and dental care,” said Jordan Brower, the community health connector for Wallace. “Many find it especially hard to access dental in this neighborhood.”

There are seven exam areas, spaces where patients are treated, six of which are open concept. This allows for transparancy in the procedures and provides comfort to the patients. The clinic accepts patients with low-income insurance, including Capital Dental or Care Oregon, as well as those without insurance. It provides procedures for those without insurance for $40, making it unique in the area as most private dentists won’t even accept uninsured patients.

The idea behind the new facility was to start small with the plan to expand as the clinic gains traction. Since opening they have been working with about 24 patients every day, with a balance of walk-ins and scheduled appointments. They have plans to expand, including bringing in a second doctor in early September.

“We will soon have a pediatric dentist dedicated to caring for and helping kids,” said Florence Garcia, practice manager for the Wallace Dental Clinic.

OUTLOOK PHOTO - The sign translates to 'Dental Health Fair', where families could learn more about the clinic, play games, eat healthy food and receive free dental supplies.Part of the plan is spreading the word about the new facility, which is where the oral fair came into play. Hosted through a partnership between Wallace and Human Solutions, the hope was to continue to educate the public about the importance of focusing on oral care.

Exhibitors at the event included SnowCap and S.M.A.R.T. (Start Making a Reader Today). One of the main target groups of the fair was those residing in the surrounding public housing complexes and families served by Human Solutions’ homeless family center. Tours of the clinic were also given throughout the event.

“Dental care can provide self-esteem and confidence,” Brower said. “The mouth links to many other health issues. It’s not just about aesthetics as residents can have trouble eating certain types of food with bad teeth, which affects nutrition.”

Brightly colored signs and blue and silver balloons welcomed visitors to the fair, which had to be moved inside the dental facility due to rain. One of the main draws was a table with giveaways, food and games. Manning the booth was Tom Mowe, who has been with the Wallace Advancements Department for the last three years. It had stickers, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, as well as water, grapes and wraps.

“‘Finding Dory’ has been the most popular toothbrush, beating out ‘The Avengers’ and Disney princesses,” Mowe said. “Poor Mickey Mouse has been completely ignored.”

Mowe said his main job was to distract the kids while their parents set up appointments and learned more about all the clinic has to offer.

“It’s only been one hour and we already have scheduled seven appointments,” Garcia said. “We are hoping to have three times that by the end of the day.”

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Tom Mowe, manning the Wallace booth at the oral fair, said the 'Finding Dory' toothbrushes were by far the most popular.