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Changes coming to county dental clinic

PRINCETON — Adjustments are being made with the dental clinic operated through the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Bureau County Board, board member Loretta Volker gave an update on the county’s dental clinic, saying the Bureau County Board of Health has studied the funding and adult utilization of the county’s dental clinic for the past 18 months. That study shows adult utilization of the clinic continues to dwindle, Volker said.

Since Medicaid no longer covers adult dental care, the Board of Health has made the decision to offer adult dental services on a sliding scale based on the income of the adult, Volker said. Decisions reached by the health department were not made lightly, she said.

Also, with the continuing decrease in the adult utilization of the clinic, the full-time services of the current dentist is no longer needed, Volker said. The current dentist has been released from his contract with the health department, as well as with LaSalle and Henry counties who subcontract dental services through the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, she said.

Dental services will now be provided by several area dentists who have served the clinic in the past and are now willing to volunteer their time at the clinic, Volker said. As before, there will still be appointments set for certain days of each week, she said.

“The health department’s services for children and adults are not going to be affected with the changes that were determined by the Board of Health,” Volker said. “Oral health is very important for Bureau and Putnam counties’ residents. The dental clinic is surviving and we expect to thrive under the new model.”

Volker said the Board of Health will continue to monitor the utilization patterns at the dental clinic and determine how to best provide services while remaining fiscally responsible to the county board, as well as to the citizens of Bureau and Putnam counties.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board heard from Bureau County Emergency Services and Disaster Agency (ESDA) coordinator Kris Donarski on the progress being made on getting federal disaster designation for Bureau County due to the April 17-18 heavy rains and flooding that hit the area.

Bureau County is one of 49 counties in Illinois to already have received state disaster area designation.

Donarski said she and other local government officials are now working on getting the county declared a federal disaster area. She and local officials have met with members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Small Business Administration and shown them some of the worst-hit homes and areas in the county.

There are two parts to the federal declaration process, Donarski said. Individual assistance covers home and business repairs, while public assistance covers things like road and bridge repair as well as government buildings.

Though Bureau County was not among the initial 11 counties declared to be federal disaster areas on May 10 by President Barack Obama, that does not mean Bureau County will not get the designation, Donarski said.

“They’ve approved those first 11 counties and will move on to the other counties to see if they will be added on,” she added. “I don’t know how long that will take.”

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