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Akron Children's opens full-service pediatric dental clinic

07-29-2016 (Akron, Ohio )

Akron Children's Hospital opened a full-service pediatric dental clinic today, recognizing that good oral health plays an important role in a child’s overall health for years to come.

The Celeste Myers Dental Clinic, located on the third floor of Akron Children's Kay Jewelers Pavilion, will provide preventative, diagnostic, therapeutic and restorative oral health services to infants, children and teens. The 6,300 sq. foot clinic features 8 private exam rooms and is in close proximity to the hospital’s GOJO Outpatient Surgery Center should moderate or deep sedation be required for more complex cases.

“This clinic not only fills an important community need but also closes a gap in Akron Children's ability to care for all of the health care needs of the children living in our 27-county service area,” said Shawn Lyden, Akron Children's executive vice president. “Access to dental care, especially for children living in poverty, has long been a concern locally, regionally and nationally. Akron Children's 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment confirmed this, finding, for example, that 15 percent of children in Summit County and nearly 18 percent of children in Stark County have never visited a dentist.”

The clinic will accept patients up to age 15 with all types of insurance, including Medicaid, and regardless of ability to pay. The staff is trained to care for children with special needs, and the clinic will collaborate with Akron Children's Locust Pediatric Care Group, a primary care medical practice which cares for a large number of children from Akron’s refugee communities, as well as children with complex health care needs.

“Our goal is to provide seamless care to children who may have lacked access to a dentist,” said Tina Sanzone, administrative director of the new dental clinic. “Recognizing that transportation and language access can be issues for these families, we will strive to coordinate appointments on days when a child has other appointments at the hospital and will have hospital interpreters well integrated with our team.”

Dr. Raj Vij is program director and has served as a project consultant, visiting other hospital-based pediatric dental centers for ideas and overseeing the program development and architectural design.

“It’s been an honor to help develop this center,” said Dr. Vij, who maintains his private pediatric dental practice in Fairlawn. “Our goal was to improve access to dental care for the children who have been long underserved and give them a great start in life. I think this will be a wonderful asset to our community.”

Dr. Jeffrey Berlin, a native of Solon, Ohio, joins the hospital having just completed his residency in pediatric dentistry from Case Western Reserve University and Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital. He earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree from CWRU.

Dr. Berlin and a team of two dental hygienists and two dental assistants will offer routine dental care – cleanings, examination and diagnostic care – in addition to restorative, surgical and emergency care. Akron Children's plans to recruit additional dentists to staff the clinic, as well as one fellowship trained in craniofacial orthodontics to help care for children with craniofacial/cleft palate birth defects in conjunction with Akron Children's pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgeons.  

The hospital also has future plans for the dental clinic to serve as a training facility for general practice and pediatric dental residents.

“As health care moves closer to the accountable care/population health model, this program will help Akron Children's reduce overall health care costs,” said Lyden. “It is not uncommon for us to have to hospitalize children with abscessed teeth where infection has spread to the whole body. Giving more children access to preventative dental care will, hopefully, reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room.”

Stephen and Celeste Myers made a significant gift to create the new dental clinic bearing Mrs. Myers’ name. Stephen Myers is a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors, and Celeste’s interest in establishing a pediatric dental clinic stems from her involvement with the Junior League of Akron’s Oral Health Initiative in the 1990s. Through the League’s efforts and support from the community, a volunteer dental clinic was operated through the Akron Health Department but need far exceeded capacity.

The Delta Dental Foundation and the Welty Family Foundation are also major donors with named spaces in the new center.

To make an appointment, call 330-543-0070.