Dental Surgery Program Extended in Northern California

Dental Surgery ProgramThe dental crisis in Sacramento County was averted when Sutter Medical Center agreed to extend its dental surgery program. A meeting was convened by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that was attended by community health leaders, representatives from Sutter Medical Center, dentists, anesthesiologists, and supporters for oral health care policy.

The stakeholders came up with a short term solution to make sure developmentally disabled children and adults have access to oral health care that requires full anesthesia. Some patients with severe autism are too sensitive that they need anesthesia so that the dentist can work on their teeth.

The dental crisis arose when Sutter Medical Center announced that they are planning to discontinue the dental surgical program on July 31. They said that they can’t afford funding the program anymore due to low Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for low-income as well as disabled patients. The law prevents nonprofit hospitals to deny taking in one particular population and that’s why Sutter Medical Center had to shut down its dental surgery program.

Sutter Medical Center is the last among Northern California hospitals to discontinue their dental surgery. It is the last place where medically and emotionally fragile can go for their oral health care.

The good news is that Sutter Medical Center will extend its dental surgery program until September. It could be extended much longer if two issues are resolved. They want the low Medi-Cal reimbursement increased and allowing them to refer more functional patients to other dental clinics.

Steinberg said that he is forming a short term task force to create clear protocols to define where special needs patients can go for their medical and dental needs. He said that more information is needed to determine the right setting for developmentally disabled children and adults with regards to the severity of their conditions.

Photo by Michael C. Barton [Public domain], undefined

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