On May 18, the Jack Sansing Dental Clinic (JSDC) started operations at its new location, opening the doors to a healthier tomorrow for Central Texans who rely on its services. For Susan Campion, Chief Programs Officer at AIDS Services of Austin, the new space was a long time in the making. “It has been my personal vision to bring ‘state of the art’ dentistry to ASA’s array of services for over ten years; now that goal is finally being realized,” she explains.
“We provide quality dental care, yet we were doing it in a substandard building.” With a total of eight chairs, an operating suite, meeting rooms, and a large reception area, the clinic has increased capacity by 22%, allowing more new patients to enter into care. “This facility offers space, equipment, and technology upgrades that enhance what we already do, making us more efficient and giving us more time with patients.”
Erin Brown, Patient Services Coordinator, knows just how important this new space is for patients:.“We create relationships with people to help them understand how important regular dental care is,” she explains “Many people don’t want to come in. They may be scared of the dentist or have low self-esteem related to their teeth. But once we talk to them, they understand the value of oral care. It improves their quality of life.”
For clients to access dental services at JSDC, they need to be seeing a regular doctor, but do not need to be in case management. Also, the clinic does not deny services based on an inability to pay and utilizes a sliding scale to provide services for people of all income levels. Many patients have infections or conditions related to their HIV such as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, oral cancers, and oral thrush. Another large concern is wasting syndrome, which causes patients to lose weight and become undernourished. In many cases, the clinic will extract a client’s teeth and provide either partial or full dentures. “Then they can eat food, get the proper nutrition, and gain weight,” Erin explains.
With a new space to supplement their longstanding presence in the community (over 22 years of providing care) and supported by highly dedicated staff, the Jack Sansing Dental Clinic will now be able to provide dental care to 1,600 people living with HIV and AIDS annually.
However, more important than the number of patients seen is the improved quality of care they will receive. Susan says, “Our success will be measured by patients who walk in the door for the first time, receive dental services from our caring and skilled staff, and declare us their new ‘dental home’ on the way out.”