BANGOR – Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Maine, has been awarded a $25,000 grant by the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation. The grant will be used to pilot a Dental Hygiene Therapist at the PCHC Dental Center.
Dental Hygiene Therapists are similar to what Physician Assistants are to a physician in that they are supervised by dentists and provide similar levels of care, but on a more limited scope. In 2014, Maine was the second US state to pass a law allowing Dental Hygiene Therapists to practice, but since then no one has attempted to navigate the certification and licensure requirements. PCHC is looking to be the first dental center in Maine to pilot the model, prove its efficiency and success can be similar to the experience in other countries and states using the model, and further expand dental access while reducing the cost of care.
“By using Dental Hygiene Therapists in the PCHC Dental Center, we will be able to serve more patients, see them sooner and more frequently, and complete treatment plans more efficiently,” said Lori Dwyer, President & CEO of PCHC. “The work of Dental Hygiene Therapists frees up our dentists for more complex procedures, which all benefits the patient. It’s working in other countries and a few other states, and we’re excited to see it work here in Maine.”
Penobscot Community Health Care also received a $7,500 discretionary grant from the Maine Health Access Foundation that will help evaluate the clinical and financial outcomes of the Dental Hygiene Therapist pilot project. This evaluation will be conducted by the Schmidt Institute – the research arm of PCHC and St. Joseph Healthcare, created to inspire the development and spread of innovative, research-based models of care that support patients across the healthcare continuum.
PCHC has posted the job opening for a Dental Hygiene Therapist and is actively recruiting candidates while licensure and certification details are being finalized.
About Penobscot Community Health Care
Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) founded in 1997 to ensure access to comprehensive, integrated primary health care services for all to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and the Maine communities served. Sixteen practices and program service sites in the Bangor area, and in Belfast and Jackman, offer a wide range of services including family medicine, dental, pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health and substance abuse, specialty services, pharmacy and healthcare for the homeless. Online at www.pchc.com.