Aatif Ansari, a hospital-credentialed dentist, practices at both the Community Dental Center in Bar Harbor and the Maine Coast Dental Clinic in Ellsworth. PHOTO COURTESY OF MDIH

Dental health expanded

BAR HARBOR—Several years ago, practitioners at Mount Desert Island Hospital started noticing a growing public health problem. They had a large patient population in need of oral health services, but there were no nonprofit dental clinics in their service area and a shortage of dentists.

Today, thanks to a unique partnership between MDI Hospital and Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, both organizations are able to provide oral health services to their region. In 2014, the two hospitals came together to form Hancock County Community Health LLC, a nonprofit partnership providing dental services to MDI Hospital’s Community Dental Center in Southwest Harbor and to the Maine Coast Community Dental Clinic in Ellsworth.

“By sharing a hospital-credentialed dentist and maximizing efficiencies, we were able was able to bring much needed nonprofit dental services to the Hancock County region,” said Arthur J. Blank, head of MDI Hospital.

“This partnership also has the potential to serve as a national model for rural hospitals across the country struggling with access to quality oral health care.”

“The impact on our community is twofold,” said consultant Ray Chalifour. “Through this creative partnership, we are able to provide oral health services to our region’s underserved population, and because we have a hospital-based dentist, MDI Hospital is able to continue to offer its Swing Bed Program, which allows residents to return to MDI following surgery and treatment elsewhere for rehab and recovery.”

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