Open Door Family Medical Center, a federally-qualified health center serving Westchester and Putnam counties, recently obtained the approvals necessary to open up their first Ulster County-based location, at 16 West Bridge St., Saugerties.
Although the other Open Door Centers throughout the state perform a number of health services ranging from podiatry to optometry, mental and behavioral health to pediatric care, the Saugerties location will focus for now solely on administering accessible and affordable dental work.
“It’s a brand-new, beautiful office. What differentiates us, we’re not a clinic, we’re a community health center. In addition to accepting a lot of insurance that private providers don’t, we also have a sliding fee for patients based on their income. Our fees are on a range depending on what percentage of the federal poverty level your family is at.” said Dr. Janet Bozzone, Open Door’s director of dentistry. “Care is not denied based on ability to pay — we’ll worry about the finances later.”
Bozzone said Open Door takes a holistic approach and embraces full-service health practices. “Usually what happens, you get an antibiotic and some pain medicine and no definitive treatment,” Bozzone said. “Oftentimes, we can provide care in a manner that is better suited to a patient’s needs. We believe that oral health is essential to overall wellness, but a lot of people kind of think that the head is disconnected from the body. They may have health insurance, but not dental.”
Bozzone stressed the importance of dental health as a part of overall health. “We’re really focused on prevention, here. Most dental diseases are 99 percent preventable. If you start children on this kind of care when they’re very young, and really focus on prevention, guidance, and counseling with parents, it can be very important. We think everyone deserves good oral health care and quality dentistry.”
Bozzone said the Saugerties location will be operating on a part-time basis as they focus on ramping up their staff and moving towards full-time availability. As of now, the branch is being run by a single dentist and two staff members, but despite their small footprint, Open Door Dental is predicting big returns for the community. Having opened their doors, quite literally, this past Jan. 21, in-house dentist Dr. Sarah Reiss said that the center is already seeing an impact. “It’s picked up — the last couple of times we’ve been open, we’ve had quite a few patients,” said Reiss. “The sliding fee scale for our dental work ranges from $35 to $95 [for uninsured patients] — it’s extremely affordable.”
Reiss is currently the only dentist with the organization, manning the entire operation with one dental assistant and one receptionist each work day.
Filling a cavity
Mimi O’Gara, director of communications for Open Door, said the decision to open in Saugerties was part of their mission to expand the project of affordable dental care to an underserved area of the state. “We’re really excited to be coming up to this corner of Ulster County,” said O’Gara. “The statistic is that there’s only 61 dental providers for every 100,000 people. Our mission is treating all people, regardless of their ability to pay. It’s really great to be able to reach the people with the greatest need and the least access.”
Open Door Dental is currently open on Mondays and Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their offices can be reached by calling 845-ODFMC-4U (845-633-6248). For further information, visit their website at www.opendoormedical.org.