April 14, 2024

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‘It can be really difficult:’ free Nanaimo dental clinic breaking down care barriers | NanaimoNewsNOW

Referrals for more in-depth care needs will also be available.

The clinic serves as a two-fold opportunity: to provide a much needed no-cost community service, as well as create a valuable learning opportunity for students entering the health and youth care fields.

Braybrook said her students have been working with the child and youth care class in preparation for this event, learning about more ways they can make dental care accessible.

“We see a lot of the same people in our clinic and we see a lot of the same people in physical offices outside of the university once they graduate. We’re missing a huge amount of the population that doesn’t have access to our care, or faces a lot more barriers than we can accommodate.”

Events like this will help identify those barriers and make access to care easier moving forward.

Appointments through the clinic are typically $35 for adults and $20 for children, with estimates suggesting comparable appointments would be billed at around $1,000 at private clinics.

Twenty senior dental hygiene students will work directly with attendees, while first years will assist with sterilization and reception areas.

Working in concert with the dental team will be four child and youth care students, running a nearby waiting room and speaking with kids and caregivers.

Teri Derksen, a faculty member with the program, told NanaimoNewsNOW access to medical care can be immensely challenging for some families.

Everything from the cost of the care itself, to transportation, potential lost work hours and other factors all create barriers which compound over time.

“It can be really difficult for some parents and caregivers when they’re making choices on whether to spend money on food or rent, or on dental care. It can create a great deal of stigma, so when we show up to a dental office and our child hasn’t had regular care, that can be a difficult place.”

Derksen also said her team will be cognoscent of youth and families coming in who may have had traumatic experiences accessing healthcare before.

They’ll be focused on creating a safe, welcoming environment.

“Providing young people with lots of choice, saying ‘do you want to hold this tool [suction, water, etc]?’ Giving some choice, really explaining what’s happening, what to expect through the appointment.”

Appointments can be made by calling (250) 740-6240 and leaving a message. Following the script outlined below is recommended.

If available appointments are taken on Saturday, staff at VIU will attempt to make other day and time work during their regular clinic hours.

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