Michelle Ellison with Dr. Morgan Baker, DDS at the Monocacy Health Partners
When Michelle Ellison’s son and daughter were young, she was a single
mom with a lot on her plate. She managed to get them what they needed,
including good medical and dental care, but when it came to her personal
health, the 50-year-old Frederick resident was not able to be as proactive.
“My insurance coverage was really minimal, and the dental work I
needed was very extensive,” she said. “I just could never
find the time or the money to get myself the dental care I needed.”
Missing regular cleanings and check-ups caused one set of problems for
Michelle. Unfortunately, she also has an unusual condition that has complicated
her dental health since she was a child. As her permanent teeth came in,
they never caused her “baby teeth” to come out. Her permanent
teeth didn’t have enough room to grow in the gums and bone, developing
instead behind her baby teeth.
Without regular dental care, Michelle’s oral health just kept getting
worse. She was in a lot of pain all the time, and was very self-conscious
about her smile.
In 2016, she heard about the Monocacy Health Partners Dental Clinic. Through
a collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, the
clinic provides emergency and preventive care to adult patients who have
limited means to pay for dental services. Located at 516 Trail Avenue
Suite B, across the street from Frederick Memorial Hospital, the clinic
accepts Maryland Medicaid, vouchers from the Religious Coalition and the
Seton Center, and self-pay patients on a sliding fee scale.
Monocacy Health Partners, an affiliate of Frederick Regional Health System,
began exploring ways to provide emergency dental services to residents
with limited resources when a 2015 community health needs assessment identified
dental care for the uninsured and underinsured as the top healthcare priority
in Frederick County. And the fact that an average of 1,000 patients were
being seen annually in the FMH Emergency Department for dental emergencies
further reinforced the need.
“When someone would come to the FMH Emergency Department with a dental
emergency like an abscess or an infection, the staff could only treat
their symptoms and prescribe an antibiotic,” said hospital Senior
Vice President Jim Williams. “But they were not able to take care
of the underlying issue, so patients had to be referred out to private
community dentists and safety-net providers like Mission of Mercy.”
The Dental Clinic opened in June of 2016, initially providing emergency
and medically-necessary care only to Frederick residents over the age
of 18. During its first year of operations, the clinic’s staff performed
786 extractions, 173 fillings, and fitted 43 patients for dentures. This
acute care was provided by tenured University of Maryland dental students
under the supervision of local dentists who volunteered their time. Services
provided at the clinic reduced the number of dental-related visits to
the FMH Emergency Department by 46%.
Less than a year after the clinic opened, services were expanded to include
preventive care. In January of 2017, the clinic began providing cleanings
and dentures in addition to acute dental care.
According to the clinic’s full-time dentist Dr. Morgan Baker, DDS,
many patients’ care has extended beyond the dental chair. “Through
our detailed assessments, we have been able to identify other health conditions
in some patients which need further care and attention,” she said.
“In these cases, we have been able to refer them to primary care
settings so they can learn how to manage these diseases before they become
Michele Ellison was one of the 629 patients treated at the dental clinic
during its first year of service, and she couldn’t be more pleased
that the Frederick community now has an affordable resource for dental
care. According to Michele, the staff is making steady progress toward
correcting what she calls “25 years of neglect.”
“With every appointment, I can see progress toward correcting my
serious dental problems,” she says. “I appreciate not only
the quality of care I receive but the respectful, kind way I’m treated.
I don’t dread coming here, and for the first time in many years,
I am not in constant pain. I even feel like smiling again!”
Monocacy Health Partners Dental Clinic performs extractions, fillings,
denture fittings, and abscess care by appointment only. Call 240-566-7005
for more information or