Jared Huffman visits Burre dental clinic after $1 million credit – Times-Standard
California Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) stopped by Burre Dental Center in Eureka on Thursday as part of a tour of Humboldt County after a $1 million appropriation was approved for the establishment.
The $1 million is one of several community project funding credits offered by Huffman for his North Shore District that have been signed into the U.S. Omnibus Appropriations Bill. A total of $13.5 million was for projects in the district.
“We really tried to look for projects that would get the most bang for our buck,” the congressman said Thursday morning. “For a million dollars, to provide this additional capacity to a facility that meets such a community need, it’s really a great example of how those dollars can have an impact.”
The funding will help expand the clinic to make more space for six additional operating rooms, additional offices, a laboratory, a call center and a sterilization station, as planned in a conceptual layout. The funds will also finance the hiring of two additional dentists and the training of one resident dentist per year.
It is estimated that the additional capacity and staff coming to the facilities will provide dental care services to approximately 5,600 to 8,000 visitors per year. The clinic currently receives approximately 30,000 annual visitors.
Huffman explained that Open Door’s dental clinic was chosen for funding after issuing a request for proposal for funds, which went through a very rigorous process. While Open Door staff don’t have hard numbers on hand, they told the Times-Standard there is a significant unmet need for dental care services, with a pre-pandemic survey compiling this information. that have been included in the funding proposal.
Cheyenne Spetzler, senior vice president of development for Open Door, said the first steps in the expansion effort are to ask the clinic’s facilities manager to determine what can be done with the available space and to ask an architect to draw up plans to bring to the city to obtain the permits. She estimates it will take seven months to get the permits. Contractor Ron Lingard will manage the project as he has done work on the structure twice in the past.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to grow here because we’re on a roll,” Spetzler said. “We’ve had adult dental and it’s stuck, and now there’s all this need that we couldn’t meet. Having more access will help them, so we really appreciate this opportunity.
Burre Dental Center will be looking to hire six more staff members to fill upcoming stations at the expanded facility.
“The more expansion we have and the more rooms, the more doctors and staff we can recruit so that we can see more patients, that alone will give us a bigger pool of patients that we can see,” Carter Wright said. , Open Director of Door Dentistry.
He pointed out that as fewer and fewer private practitioners in the area accepted the request for health insurance at the clinic, the demand increased.
“Before, a lot of private dentists accepted Medicare, but they kept cutting reimbursement and increasing paperwork and they just walked out. So that was an extra burden for us,” Wright said.
Last week, the clinic held an open house and is looking to train its own registered dental assistants as dental programs resume.
“So we’re going to invest about $5,000 in someone who wants to learn how to become a certified dental assistant to do in-house, on-the-job training, and we’ll pay for them to go through certification recognizing that it’s more of a person’s interest in the dental field than necessarily having that specific training because we can train for it,” said Sam Hani, site administrator of the Burre Dental Clinic.
Despite plans for expansion, Wright laments the lack of access and believes more access is badly needed.
“It hurts us not to be able to reach everyone. I’m here because I want to heal people and see as many as I can, but the limits are based on so many things, and even with this expansion, we still won’t have the ability to see everyone. So we are working on different projects to create better access,” he said.
As part of his visit to Humboldt County, Huffman spoke to a high school class and arranged tours of the Sequoia Park Zoo Sky Walk and Fortuna’s Wild Souls Ranch. Prior to his stop at the clinic, he toured Nordic Aquafarms facilities and the Samoa Dunes area to speak with conservation groups. He did not meet with groups working on offshore wind power projects, but said he had met them in the past.
Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.