Sussex Smiles recently gave a $7,000 donation to Delmarva Rural Ministries for their dental services at their Kent Community Health Center.
Sussex Smiles, the only Sussex County dental clinic for qualified persons ages 18-64, closed last fall after finding that hiring a full-time dentist was more challenging than they had originally thought it would be, and despite passage of House Bill 392 that established guidelines for volunteer dentists, hygienists and dental assistants.
Delmarva Rural Ministries – which, in addition to providing housing and community services for those in need, including migrant and seasonal workers, and providing health care in the form of adult and geriatric medicine, behavioral health, women’s health, case management and pediatrics – offers dental health care services. Those services include routine cleanings, deep cleanings, fluoride treatment, sealants, radiographs, fillings, extractions and root canals.
Since Sussex Smiles’ closure last fall, the organization has been referring patients to Delmarva Rural Ministries’ Kent Community Health Center, located in Dover. In the current economy, the donation couldn’t have come at a better time, according to Dr. Richard L. Sklut, chief dental officer at Delmarva Rural Ministries.
“Our workload has almost doubled since the economy has tanked,” said Sklut. He also mentioned that finding manpower to accommodate the growing need is not the problem, as the center can have up to seven providers working at one time. But monetary resources are harder to come by, he said.
“We have the providers but money for supplies is scarce. So we are most appreciative of the donation from Sussex Smiles, as a very high percentage of our population is from Sussex County,” said Sklut.
Anne Green, former executive director of Sussex Smiles, said the organization has hopes of donating the rest of its money and its equipment to La Red Health Center, located in Georgetown, with the goal of getting a Sussex County-based dental health program running once again.
“We are not open for business but plan on giving the rest of the money and our equipment to La Red,” said Green.
Kay Malone, COO of La Red Health Center, said La Red has accepted Sussex Smiles’ gift, contingent upon getting a lease for space at the Stockley Center, where Sussex Smiles was located and where the equipment is still located, and are in the process of obtaining that lease from the State of Delaware.
For more information on Delmarva Rural Ministries, visit www.drminc.org online. For more information on La Red, the only federally qualified health center in Sussex County, visit www.laredhealthcenter.org online.