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The Suburbanite
  • Stark County Board of Health to close dental clinic

  • The Stark County Board of Health voted to close the 20-year-old clinic Wednesday after learning that the Ohio Department of Health eliminated its dental care funding.

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  • The Stark County Health Department’s dental clinic, which annually serves thousands of residents who have no dental insurance, will close its doors Feb. 15.
    The Stark County Board of Health voted to close the 20-year-old clinic Wednesday after learning that the Ohio Department of Health eliminated its dental care funding. The board also abolished the five employee positions at the clinic, which includes a dentist, three dental assistants and a dental hygienist.
    Without the $75,000 grant from the state, the clinic would have ended 2013 with a deficit of $126,418, budget estimates show. In 2012, the clinic, which operates on a roughly $400,000 budget, had a deficit of $40,734 that was covered by funds from the health department’s main operating budget.
    Health board member Terrence Seeberger said it was disheartening to see the employees lose their jobs but the board has a duty to operate the health department in a financially prudent manner.
    “These are difficult numbers for a district like ours to absorb,” Seeberger said.
    The clinic — at 3969 Convenience Circle NW — treats roughly 3,000 patients, of whom 75 percent have no dental insurance coverage and nearly one-third of whom are covered by Medicaid.
    Health Commissioner Kirk Norris said a letter will be sent to all patients to notify them of the clinic’s closure and providing them with information about other dental clinics in Stark County, such as at the Canton Community Clinic and at Mercy Medical Center.