Steamboat Springs When Sandy Stefano-Miller has a problem with a tooth, she, like other South Routt residents, has to travel to Steamboat Springs to receive dental care.
And her father, Rocco Stefano, who no longer drives, has to take the senior transport service for the 30-mile trip to Steamboat.
But thanks to a recent grant from the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Program, the South Routt community will soon have access to comprehensive dental care in Oak Creek.
The South Routt Medical Center learned two weeks ago it had been awarded $49,460 in funds from the Colorado Rural Health Care Grant Program, which granted more than $2 million to 54 organizations around the state this grant cycle. The grant program funds a maximum of $50,000 to rural health care entities for infrastructure needs and service expansion.
The office will use the funds to purchase the equipment needed for a dentist from the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition to provide care at the facility.
“It just helps to build our community into a self-sufficient community,” Medical Center office manager Tina Holliday said. “And not having to rely on Steamboat as much.”
The office has a dental hygienist who works two days a week and a sports medicine program that operates three days a week. One of the facility’s two doctors is on site five days a week.
Stefano-Miller, who is the secretary of the South Routt Medical Center’s board of directors, said expanding services in rural areas like South Routt is invaluable.
“I think this is wonderful for our citizens,” she said. “Especially for the seniors who can’t drive and have to go to Steamboat. It’s so critical now, as our general population ages, that rural settings like this one that are desperate for medical care have access to care of all types.”
While most of the funds will go toward dental equipment, about $4,000 of the grant will help purchase an automated external defibrillator for the office.
While the medical center already has a cart with a defibrillator machine, nurse practitioner Linda Casner said AEDs are quicker, faster and simpler.
“It’s really very nice that we don’t have to use our own limited funds to purchase that and have it available,” Casner said.
Casner said support from organizations like the Rural Health Care Grant Program are especially important because many rural areas — South Routt included — serve uninsured or underinsured patients.
“The more you make these kinds of services available, but more people might utilize them,” Casner said about adding a dental program.
The Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition is a nonprofit dental clinic based in Craig that delivers comprehensive dental services and education to low-income patients in Northwestern Colorado on a sliding scale.
Stefano-Miller said the medical center hopes dental services can be available before school starts in the fall.
“This is really exciting,” he said. “This is going to allow us to provide care across the board. I think this is wonderful for our citizens.”
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com