Sacramento County Looks for Solution Dental Care Crisis

Sacramento Medical CenterThe Sutter Medical Center is the latest health system in Northern California that announced the discontinuing of dental surgery programs. That led community leaders to scramble as they look for a way to resolve the dental care crisis.

Sutter Medical Center shut down its dental surgery program because it was affecting their bottom line. The decision left the region with no hospital wanting to sacrifice their bottom line in order to serve vulnerable patients who require anesthesia to endure dental surgery works.

Sutter Medical Center has been the only community provider for several years but they can’t afford to bear the cost anymore. Its CEO, Carrie Owen Plietz, has pledged to work with leaders of the community to find an alternative.

The pullout made by Sutter Medical Center has increased the problems faced by Sacramento County’s health leaders who are trying to find a way to improve the county’s poor performance in providing access to oral health care to children.

At present, only 30.6 percent of the 110,000 low income children in Sacramento with Medi-Cal have visited a dentist in 2010 to 2011. This was the third worst rate in State of California. An advisory committee has been working to improve the numbers and now has to deal with the pullout of Sutter Medical Center.

The decision made by Sutter Medical Center means that majority of the region’s developmentally challenged children and adults as well as those who suffer from tics or seizures, such as patients with Parkinson’s disease or cerebral palsy will have no place to go in the region where a dentist can work with an anesthesiologist to provide care in an hospital setting.

The California Dental Association said that the problem is seen not just in Sacramento County. There is a need for immediate action to help the medically fragile children and adults to continue receiving required dental care.

Photo by Sacramento River

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