A new dental clinic for low-income people will be a welcome addition to Lawrence's health care safety net.
The lack of adequate dental care has been a glaring gap in local services for low-income people.
Many local dentists did what they could to meet this need, but an announcement of plans to open a separate clinic in Lawrence is welcome news. The Douglas County Dental Coalition has rented the office and purchased the equipment of a retiring dentist and hopes to open the new clinic by Aug. 1.
The clinic will operate with grants and donations. The coalition hopes to hire a dentist through the National Health Service Corps, and local hygienists will volunteer their time.
A representative of the Hutchinson-based United Methodist Health Ministry Fund, which is assisting with the Lawrence effort, noted that unlike many health services, there is no "safety net in dentistry." For most physical illnesses, patients can seek help in a hospital emergency room, but such help is not available for dental complaints.
Health Care Access, a local agency that provide health care for uninsured residents of Douglas County referred about 250 patients to local dentists who volunteer their time last year. The demand for services is expected to increase when the new clinic opens.
Adequate dental care is a basic component to good health. The new clinic will be a godsend for people who were putting off dental work because they could not afford it. Congratulations to the network of dentists, hygienists and concerned citizens who are bringing this clinic to life.