Mobile dental care returns to Hancock in partnership with Tri-State

by Geoff Fox

Family Health Care Hagerstown is providing continuing dental care in Hancock thanks to Tri-State Community Health Center’s Hancock site.

Usually, the Family Health Care dental van is located at either Hancock Elementary or Middle-Senior High School so students can get easy access to the dental care being provided.

However, with schools resorting back to distance learning, Family Health Care had to find another location.

That’s where Tri-State came in to play.

Tri-State CEO Susan Walter said the two health providers are “sister” certified community health centers and “we collaborate every which way we can.”

Family Health Care takes care of a lot of people in Washington County in the Hagerstown area while Tri-State is taking care of those folks west of Hagerstown.

“We try and work together as often as possible,” she said.

With the schools closed, Family Health Care asked if they could set up shop in the Tri-State parking lot, which Walter said, “of course.”

“I’d like them to be there all the time, but for the access to the children it does make sense, long term, to be at the school,” she said.

The set up at the van is “exquisite,” Walter said, and it is better than most dentist offices.

The van is funded to only serve Washington County and doesn’t cross state lines.

Walter said it’s important to stay in touch with health providers, especially dental health, because the oral cavity is a source for infection for the entire body.

She added Family Health Care does accept Maryland Medicaid, however they don’t accept West Virginia or Pennsylvania Medicaid.

The van and its crew are focusing on the families and making sure the kids are getting treated.

With COVID, procedures are “a lot different” said Mobile Unit Coordinator for Family Health April Stanton.

Those steps include

Caleb Walls prepares to have Dr. Allison Tages perform dental work on him on November 24. Walls said he had been going to the van “for a while” through the school. He wasn’t sure what kind of work was going to be done that day.

more rinsing for the patient and more personal protection equipment for the staff, like shields, three masks, and changing gowns when they go home.

Stanton said staff and patients both get temperatures taken with the patients getting COVID questions asked of them.

When the van was in Hancock on November 24, Stanton said existing patients through the school and the office saw them through the website and also through insurance companies.

Stanton said they are in Hancock at least once a month and different locations around Washington County five days a week.

When the weather was warmer, the van was set up in Widmeyer Park, but since it’s gotten colder, Stanton said they needed to move to a new location due to the restrooms were closed in the park.

Stanton said last Tuesday, they were probably going to see 13 to 14, which is their average, depending on the procedure.

On board, there is the driver, which was Stanton, a dental assistant and a dentist. Times could vary depending on what was being done.

Because of COVID, there is time between patients so things can get wiped down and cleaned.

Once that is done, Stanton goes and gets the next patient from their vehicle.

Right now, the next scheduled time for the Mobile Dental Van is February 2, but it’s unknown where the van would be parked.

While Hancock residents might prefer to have an appointment in Hancock, the van can take anyone from Washington County at any of their sites.

To make an appointment, call the Family Health dental office at 301-745-3777, ext. 1030 and to find out where you can be seen.

To make an appointment at Tri-State for any other type of medical need, you can call 3010-678-7256 for 24/7 access.