Rural Dentistry Training Program Eliminated After Ownership of Clinic Transferred
A rural dental training program will be eliminated Dec. 1, when Community Medical Centers turns over to United Health Centers operation of the clinic that hosts the program, the Fresno Bee reports. Community Medical Centers owns a small dental clinic in Mendota that serves predominantly poor and uninsured rural patients and has trained dental residents for 26 years. Community Medical decided to turn over operation of the clinic to United, a group of not-for-profit rural clinics, after losing $180,000 annually on the site, which is affiliated with the San Francisco-based University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. Under United, the clinic will remain open but will no longer serve as a training site. Because Community will continue to participate in the dental residency program at its other sites, United will not be able to receive any funding to run the training program, the Bee reports. The group has hired a staff dentist, and the two part-time dentist/teachers and dental residents will be transferred to other training sites in Fresno. Dr. Roger Simonian, who runs the Mendota program, said, "It's the only rural training program for new dentists in all of California," adding that students have come from several states to participate. A study by the University of California-San Francisco last year found that about 20% of California communities do not have enough dentists, and two-thirds of those communities are in rural areas, the Bee reports. According to John Zelensky, Community's senior vice president of communications, and United CEO Robert Harlass, over the last 10 years, only three of the residents who trained in Mendota chose to set up practices there (Correa, Fresno Bee, 11/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.