How the closure of a NY dental clinic could impact underserved patients

The closure of St. Peter's Hospital Dental Center in Albany, N.Y., could decrease access to care for underserved patients, the Times Union reported June 23.

The hospital announced in May that it would close the dental center June 30, citing financial losses. The dental clinic serves about 4,000 patients annually.

The closure will increase pressure on federally qualified health clinics to provide care to low-income and uninsured patients while dealing with ongoing staffing shortages, the news organization reported.

St. Peter's said it is seeking other community partnerships to establish care for its patients, but its only partnership so far is with the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Health Center in Albany. The health center is one out of two local clinics that will be left after the closure. Kathryn Rothas, dental director at Whitney Young, told the news organization that the clinics will not be able to take in St. Peter's patients while maintaining the same level of care. 

Ms. Rothas also stated that the Whitney Young clinic has resources to expand, but has struggled to hire and retain dentists since the COVID-19 pandemic. It also does not have the staff to operate at full capacity, needing more dental assistants, receptionists and hygienists. However, the clinic will launch a dental residency program in 2025 using a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration.

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