New Dental Sedation Clinic Opens at MetroHealth
MetroHealth has joined forces with the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities to launch the MetroHealth Dental Sedation clinic for patients whose dental procedures don't require the use of an operating room.
Often, people with developmental disabilities require general anesthesia because of medical complications, difficulty coping with the procedure while awake, or both.
A lack of available operating room time means that people with disabilities who need general anesthesia face a wait of one to two years for an appointment. The new clinic not only will shorten the wait time for appointments, it also will free up operating rooms for patients for whom general anesthesia is the only real option.
The MetroHealth Dental Sedation clinic opened on November 30. It's located at Ohio City Family Dentistry, 3701 Lorain Ave., the home base for the MetroHealth Department of Dental Medicine since July 2021.
"In-office sedation clinics are very rare in Northeast Ohio," said Gregory Heintschel, DDS, MetroHealth's Chair of Dental Medicine. “This is a new access point. By using the in-office clinic for high-functioning patients, we are able to open up more spots in the operating room allowing for greater access overall.”
One operatory is designated for the procedure and one is designated for recovery. Currently the clinic is open one day a week, with the goal to increase to five days a week by the end of 2024.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities contributed $25,000 to the sedation clinic's development and has committed one full-time employee to support people with disabilities in scheduling appointments, coordinating other medical procedures that need to be done while the patient is under anesthesia, and helping patients navigate billing and Medicaid systems.
"We are grateful for MetroHealth's partnership," said Cuyahoga DD Superintendent and CEO Amber Gibbs, PhD. "This clinic will be a game changer for people we support, and we hope it can be a model for other clinics across the county.
It's anticipated that when the MetroHealth Dental Sedation clinic is fully operational 12 to 18 months from now, it will accommodate 30-40 patients per week.
The new clinic is the latest in MetroHealth's efforts to expand access to dental services in underserved communities. In July 2023, the Department of Dental Medicine launched a new dental residency program, AEGD – Advanced Education in General Dentistry. The one-year program, which has an optional second year available, is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation. AEGD residents rotate within the oral surgery and pediatric dentistry departments and are involved in new dentistry outreach through MetroHealth's School Health Program and at the Broadway and Glenville Community health centers.
"With the opening of the MetroHealth Dental Sedation clinic, we are better able to address and remedy the health disparities that pose a daily challenge to people with developmental disabilities," said MetroHealth President and CEO Airica Steed, Ed.D, RN, MBA, FACHE. “Their needs have been overlooked far too long. We are grateful for the expertise and support that the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities has brought to make this heightened level of care possible.”
While the MetroHealth Dental Sedation clinic is primarily for patients with developmental disabilities, it also is available for what Dr. Heintschel calls "dental phobic" patients. "Many individuals don't seek dental care because of their fears and anxieties," he said. "We hope to provide care to those patients through this clinic as well."
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers For more information, visit metrohealth.org.