WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – Poor oral health is widespread in West Virginia, but Wheeling Health Right was recognized nationally for their fully integrated medical and dental free clinic.
It significantly affects almost all aspects of life including the workforce, emergency room utilization, and chronic health conditions.
According to a 2014 report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, only 40 percent of West Virginians have dental insurance, which Dr. Michael Medovic from the American Dental Association says should go hand-in-hand with health insurance.
”Dental students today are taught about the importance of medicine. We need our medical colleagues to get on board with this. Especially things like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease are so tied to dental disease and if we can fix the dental problems, we can have a better outcome with the medical.”Dr. Michael Medovic, American Dental Association
While Medicaid expansion has made significant strides in providing low-income West Virginians with health coverage – dental benefits are not covered for adult beneficiaries, leaving out a critical aspect of health care for the approximately 300,000 adults over the age of 21 who rely on this assistance.
Wheeling Heath Right is the only free health clinic in the Ohio Valley, providing a team of dedicated volunteers including physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and clerical workers.
One of these volunteers, medical director James Comerci, says that the collaboration of medicine and dentistry for their patients has taken off over the last several years with their first-rate dental clinic.
”Medicine and dentistry are very connected and dental problems can be caused by medical problems – medical problems can cause dental problems. So, the more that we can put the dentist and the physician, PA, NP together to talk about those patients’ problems, the better we can take care of them.”James Comerci – Medical Director Volunteer, Wheeling Health Right
In order to see dentists like Dr. Medovic on the dental side, it is required that you go through the medical side, as well for both parties to know and fully understand your health history to improve general health.
”Many of our patients are working poor, so they really can’t afford dental treatment, and this becomes their dental home,” Dr. Medovic emphaizes.
“They come here and they are treated just like any other patient going to any other doctor’s office. We’re glad to have them. We’re glad they participate with us, and this is their home as far as medicine and dentistry.”
You can find a full list of Wheeling Health Right’s services HERE.