Sr. Georgette Tells the Story of the Mobile Dental Clinic's History
"The Mobile Dental Clinic is a 40-foot customized coach that is fully accessible and is equipped with two dental stations, a sterilization centre and a reception area. The clinic is staffed by a dentist, registered dental hygienist and a certified dental assistant. The bus will travel throughout Toronto visiting neighbourhoods and community agencies Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to provide free dental care to those who meet eligibility requirements." — From the press release of Toronto Public Health.
- In 1997 I began volunteering with the Wellesley Health Bus which was started to look after the community in the Wellesley area after the closing of the Wellesley Hospital. Very soon I began to notice that many of the clients I was seeing on the Health Bus were in need of dental care and we had no place to refer them. The hospitals had begun closing their clinics and the only referral point we had was Regent Park CHC. This facility was also experiencing financial difficulties and was telling people they might have to close. We who were referring clients began to discuss what could be done.
- In 2000 we asked a number of agencies to come to a meeting whose focus was to discuss what we might do to alleviate this growing problem.
- By 2001 an informal coalition had formed around the issue of access to dental care for many of the clients served by St. Michael's Hospital, Regent Park Community Health Centre, Central Toronto Community Health Centres, Wellesley Central Health Corporation, Toronto Public Health Department, the Health Bus of the Wellesley Central Corporation and the District Health Council. Sherbourne Health Centre joined after the health bus was transferred to them in 2004. We focused on dental needs in southeast Toronto. However we very quickly realized that the issue was city wide and so we sent out a survey throughout the greater Toronto area to obtain some solid data on how vast the problem really was. From this a Report "Dental Care: Who has Access" was produced in Sept. 2001.
- In 2002 we wrote the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care and had a meeting on Feb.10th, 2002. We discussed our concerns around access to dental services for Toronto residents who are socially and economically disadvantaged.
- In May 2004 we held a National Oral Health Symposium and followed this with a Pilot Proposal for Dental Services in Sept. 2005 which was submitted to the Provincial Government to obtain funding for 6 pilot sites for 5 years to meet the oral health needs of marginalized persons.
- By 2006 there were a number of Oral Health Coalitions established in Kingson, Peterborough, and Halton Region, to name a few.
- In 2008, as this issue is a Provincial issue, the provincial government announced an investment of $45 million annually to fund dental programs for low income Ontarians.