Children’s dental clinic opens doors to community

Published 10:22 am Monday, December 10, 2012

Five-year-old Zamora Butterbaugh is seen with Batman during a visit at the new children’s dental center located on the second floor of the St. Mary’s Medical Center, Ironton Campus.

Many of Ironton’s smiles may soon be brighter.

The Ironton Children’s Dental Center and Dr. Vinod Miriyala invited the public to tour the new office at the St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Ironton Campus Thursday during an open house.

The dental center has been open about two weeks, said Aimee LeBland, a dental hygienist at the center, and this event provides the community the opportunity to see the new facility and learn what it has have to offer to those struggling to find and afford quality dental care for their children.

Email newsletter signup

“The majority the people here in the Tri-State area are low income,” LeBlanc said. “There are very few private dental practices in the area that accept Medicaid, but we accept it from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.”

LeBlanc also said the clinic has a sliding fee scale based on income in place for those who make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still cannot afford private insurance.

The dental center, which is for children under 19 years of age, is part of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization’s Family Medical Centers.

Dr. Vinod Miriyala, the center’s pediatric dentist, said one of his organization’s main focuses is to provide quality health care to those who cannot afford it.

“This is the first dental clinic for our organization,” Vinod said. “It is also the first non-profit children’s dental clinic in Lawrence County. The clinic has been in the works for a long time. The medical practices have been pushing for it due to their patients not being able to afford dental care – and earlier this year we were finally able to do it after the funds because available.”

The CAO already operated primary care and behavioral health clinics on the campus, and Vinod said the addition of the dental center makes it so it can now operate as a health care headquarters.

“The main focus here is to make this a medical one-stop-shop for the community, a true health home,” Vinod said. “We want a patient who sees our primary care physician to also come to our dental clinic.”

The dental center is only for children at the moment, but Vinod said the plan is to expand it to adults in the future.

But since children are the only patients the clinic currently sees, Vinod said they thought of a good way to provide entertainment for them during the open house – a visit from Batman.

Batman roared onto the campus in his Batmobile to help spread the message of good dental hygiene.

“What would Batman be like without good teeth?,” Batman said. “There are so many health issues that can come out if you don’t properly take care of your teeth so I’m thankful for the opportunity to come out there and share this message with the kids.”

Besides dental health advice from the Dark Knight, the open house event also included a tour of the center and giveaways.