Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Gov allots $200,000
to save dental clinic

The Queen's program provides
services to the poor and seriously ill

By Rod Antone

Gov. Ben Cayetano has ordered that $200,000 be provided to save the Queen's Medical Center Dental Clinic.

The clinic, which treated nearly 4,000 poor and seriously ill people in the past fiscal year, was scheduled to close June 30, as first reported by the Star-Bulletin.

"The Dental Residency Program is a valuable community service that is not available anywhere else in Hawaii," Cayetano said in a news release yesterday. "It serves a critical population in our community, and I am glad the program will remain open."

Before infusion of cash by the state, health officials and concerned dentists stressed that the 40-year-old clinic is the only facility of its kind in Hawaii and its closure would have left thousands of people without dental services.

Yesterday, the state Department of Health announced that the additional money would enable the Queen's Dental Residency Program to continue until June 2003.

"The program provides dental treatment for many of our disabled residents, provides advanced training for dentists in Hawaii and is staffed largely by a dedicated corps of volunteer local professionals," said Health Director Bruce Anderson.

"We are pleased that the governor has made the General Dentistry Residency Program a priority."

Anderson said the clinic last year had 3,900 patient visits, of which 293 required acute hospital care.

The cost of transporting one person to the mainland for urgent dental care or "same-day treatment" is conservatively estimated at $25,000, Anderson said.

Last year, the clinic had 30 such cases -- a cost of more than $750,000, he said.

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