Lancaster County has piloted a temporary program to help its residents that don’t have the funds or insurance to receive needed dental care. The program offers deeply discounted treatments and exams performed by dental assistant students of Lancaster County Career and Technical Training.
“We try to teach our students to give back to the community. And we also want to prepare the students better for their potential employers,” said Dr. Marie Kelly who co-leads the LCCTC dental assistant program with Kay Hudak.
Students of the program feel that the experience of working with real patients is invaluable. “That’s a big part of the job,” said Haley Keyes, a student at LCCTC. “It’s a totally different experience having real patients; you have to listen to them, and interact,” she added.
Students typically practice on DXXTTR (pronounced Dexter) which are dental dummies. These dummies simulate a real patient and are used for students to learn how to perform X-rays. During the last two months of the program students begin clinical rotations in dental offices but Hudak’s new pilot program brings the clinical experience to the student.
Local residents without dental insurance can have the work performed by students for a fraction of the cost. Examples of services provided include $25 for a filling, $20 for a sealant and free exams and X-rays.
The clinic is open two days a week with three to four patients per day. Demand is growing as word spreads throughout the community and Kelly wants to ensure that the program services the right people.
“We’re trying to find the patients who don’t have insurance but can still pay a minimal fee so we can continue operating the clinic. I want to get the people who need help, who are maybe financially challenged,” said Kelly.
The clinics require appointments and root canals and other more complicated procedures are not included in the offering nor are routine cleanings. The program was made possible by a $6,000 public offering from the LCCTC Foundation.
Kelly hopes to make the dental service a permanent part of the LCCTC dental assistant program.