United Way brings smiles

NANAIMO – Dental clinic able to offer services thanks to charity’s support.

The cost of dental work can be prohibitive but a non-profit community clinic is doing its best to ensure that the less fortunate have access to dental services.

The CODE dental clinic in Nanaimo opened in October 2011 and doesn’t provide services free of charge, but rather offers dental by donation. It is one of the many groups that receive funding from the United Way for Central and Northern Vancouver Island, which began its annual fundraising campaign Friday with a goal of $750,000.

“We ask people, the patients, for donations or contributions towards the costs and we need those funds to operate,” said Doug Creba, who is on the clinic’s advisory committee. “But we do not charge the scale that is set by the B.C. College of Dental Surgeons and it means that it’s very affordable for people who are finding themselves in pretty severe dental pain.”

Dentists at the CODE clinic are professionals who volunteer their time. The clinic would not be able to operate solely on donations, so the United Way assists greatly, and just approved funding for 2013-14.

“That makes the difference between being able to charge the scale, the full rate, of dental services and being able to say the contributions from the patients are sufficient – the United Way makes up the difference (and) community contributions make up the difference,” Creba said.

Signy Madden, United Way executive director, said the organization has supported the clinic for three years and it sees a lot of traffic.

“People come from all around the area,” said Madden. “They’ll drive in, they’ll walk in and they sit there all day waiting to see the dentist and for many of them, it’s having a tooth pulled, they’ve got infections and they will never get to the dentist because they can’t afford it.”

People that can’t afford it are getting dental services and thus avoiding unnecessary expenses, she said. “We’re keeping them out of emergency in the hospital, which is where people usually end up,” Madden said.

For more information, please call 250-591-0771.