Funding comes through for clinic

Posted: Friday, July 11, 2003

The Aspen Dental Clinic in Kenai has has moved a step closer to being paid for.

And the final step is very close. A representative from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Denali Commission on Tuesday presented a check for $132,435 to site director Ann Evans and Central Peninsula Health Centers Inc. board members.

"This is one of the many projects we have helped," said David Beveridge, the southern regional environmental health manager for the consortium. "It is actually the first one that has moved forward as fast as it has."

The money will pay for the new equipment in the facility, which accommodates six dental work stations and digital imaging equipment, said CPHC Inc. Executive Director Stan Steadman.

Combined with a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development Division for $918,000 the clinic expects to receive next week to pay for the two-story house and property the clinic occupies, the clinic will have much of its primary material operating expenses paid for.

"This completes our packaging so that we can go forward and own the equipment and the building," Steadman said, referring to the USDA loan and the Denali Commission grant.

Corbi Aaronson, board treasurer, said funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Bureau of Primary Health Care -- in the form of a $300,000-grant -- to cover basic operations, will have to be renewed in the coming months.

Another funding source initially pegged to pay for the building bred some community unrest and has yet to be allocated.

A state-supported ProShare grant of about $570,000, initially slated to pay the balance of the building in full, has fallen to the back burner, Steadman said.

The clinic was envisioned more than a year ago by the CPHC Inc. board to provide dental care for underinsured and uninsured children and adults and has been open for business since April doing just that. Children are the primary focus of care, and Evans said staffing constraints have limited adult services to "emergency only" status.

"Because we don't have a provider, we have had to ask people to wait," she said. "So far, we have not had to turn people with pain away."

The clinic currently is reviewing candidates to take on a full-time general dentist role and a part-time role.

"Our candidates are very excited about coming to work here," she said.

The clinic, located on the corner of Main Street and Barnacle Way in Kenai, currently operates under varying hours, depending on staffing.

For more information, call 283-7759.

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