Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lottery replaces lines for Boone County's uninsured seeking dental care

On the first of each month, uninsured residents of Boone County line up for hours outside the Health Department in hopes of receiving dental care they can't otherwise afford.

“People were arriving earlier and earlier,” said Rebecca Roesslet, social services supervisor of the Public Health and Human Services Department. “On one occasion, we had a gentleman spend the night. It’s getting cold. That is not good."

Even though those in need of dental care had been evaluated by a Health Department nurse practitioner, being referred to a dentist was on a first-come, first-served basis. That changed Oct. 1, when the Health Department adopted a new lottery system.

"The old system was not accommodating to people with disabilities, people who are working, people with children at home or the elderly,” Roesslet said.

The program, which began in 1990, serves between nine and 15 people each month, Roesslet said.The new lottery system will not change the number of patients treated. The department made 203 dental assessments in 2009.

After being screened for eligibility and evaluated, patients are entered in a lottery and chosen on the first of each month using a random number program on a computer. The Health Department calls those selected and gives them five days to come to the Health Department, Roesslet said.

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