Alec Webster and his wife Claudia make a few remarks and accept a golden shovel from Dientes' Executive Director Laura Marcus (left).
Dientes held a groundbreaking ceremony last week to celebrate the $3 million expansion of its 1830 Commercial Way location, which will accommodate 8,000 more affordable dental visits–up to an estimated 28,000 total.
A $250,000 grant last week from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation means over two-and-a-half million of the funding is now accounted for. Dientes is still raising the remaining $487,000 for the construction, which is now underway, but development director Sheree Storm” is “very confident” the nonprofit will meet its goal.
“Supporters understand that oral health is critical to overall health,” Storm says. “And the more kids we can get on the path of good oral health and good oral hygiene habits, the better.“
Dientes, which has sliding scale fees for uninsured patients, also plans to open a four-chair location in Watsonville, and another chair at the Homeless Services Center. It’s aiming to double the number of families who receive its dental care each year, with a goal of 40,000 total visits by 2020.
At the groundbreaking event for this next expansion, executive director Laura Marcus awarded gold-colored shovels to Dientes Board President Phil Grauberger, Nanette Mickiewicz from Dominican Hospital, county supervisor John Leopold and Alec and Claudia Webster, whose foundation donated $200,000 to the new room. Dientes even told them keep the shiny gardening supplies (because, you know, nothing makes people think of clean teeth like digging into the dirt to plant a fresh patch of gardenias).
Camille Smith-Ballon and her 12-year-old son, who were at the Dec. 3 groundbreaking event, came to the Dientes clinic recently when he broke his tooth in a skateboarding accident, exposing a nerve. It was a Saturday, but one of Dientes' nine dentists repaired the tooth and helped the family avoid a trip to the emergency room.
“It made him and me feel like I was getting the best available dental care, whether I had the most elaborate private insurance or not,” Smith-Ballon said. “And that's what you have here that is really unique and outstanding.”