Pen Bay Leading Efforts to Help
MaineCare Patients Get Dental Care They Need
Penobscot Bay Medical Center is one of the first hospitals in Maine to reach an agreement with a local dentist to assist MaineCare patients with acute dental pain.
People with dental pain - but no dentist to treat them - often seek treatment in a hospital's emergency department. At Pen Bay, those patients can now leave the hospital with an appointment for follow-up care at a local dentist's office.
Dr. Daniel Schecter is one of very few accepting MaineCare acute dental care in the Midcoast region. Dr. Robert Berube, an Augusta oral surgeon who is a member of the state's Mainecare Dental Advisory Committee, praises both Schecter and Pen Bay for being the first in the Midcoast - and one of the few in the state - to have such an arrangement between a hospital and a general dentist.
If dental pain patients come to Pen Bay during Dr. Schecter's regular office hours, the emergency department can call for an appointment. If the patient is seen at the ED after-hours or on weekends, the patient receives Dr. Schecter's contact information for follow-up on their own. Schecter, whose offices are on Route 1 across from the hospital (819 Commercial St., Rockport), can be reached at 596-7111.
"Our patients' dental care needs weren't being met. We had to work together to find a solution," said Roxanne Walton, RN, Director of Emergency Services in the Pen Bay Emergency Department, who coordinated the dental care project, coordinating with Schecter and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, the administrator of the MaineCare program.
Previously, patients would come to the ED and were discharged with antibiotics and pain medication but no specific treatment plan or follow-up with a dentist. This meant their pain and infection were taken care of, but as anyone who has had an abscessed tooth knows, those are only temporary fixes. Now the ED can refer to Schecter for more definitive care and patients can establish an ongoing relationship with a local dentist.
"Pen Bay wanted patients to receive dental care in a dentist's office rather than the emergency department," said Schecter. "I'm pleased to be able to help Pen Bay meet this community need."
MaineCare generally covers preventative and restorative dental services until age 21, after which only acute care (treatment of pain and infection) is covered. Dentures, for example, are covered either by third party insurance coverage, self-pay or by applying for approval thru the MaineCare program.
The Maine Dental Association says that hospitals around the state are seeking similar arrangements with private dentists but that Pen Bay is the first to firmly establish this kind of program.