Low salary tied to Illinois county health department's struggle to hire a dentist

The Edgar County (Ill.) Public Health Department is struggling to find a dentist for its dental program, and healthcare professionals say the low salary is to blame, The Prairie Press reported April 24.

The county's board of directors discussed the vacant position during an April 19 meeting.

The health department's dental hygienists have been performing preventive services for patients but can't provide restorative services without a dentist. ECPHD Administrator Monica Dunn said the department has failed to hire a dentist through several methods. She noted that the $150,000 salary listed for the position is not attractive to applicants.

The average salary for public health dentists in rural areas of the state is $164,359, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Edward Rico, MD, president of the board and a physician at Horizon Health in Paris, Ill., agreed the salary was too low and advocated for the salary to be reviewed. He added that it is unrealistic to expect graduates with student debt to take a low-paying job.

A board delegate wanted assurance that the program could attract enough business to justify paying a higher salary. Ms. Dunn said all services that would be performed by the dentist are reimbursable and a dentist on staff would increase the department's client base.

Ms. Dunn will prepare a financial report examining the cost-payment ratio from when the department had a dentist on staff. 

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