3 offices will serve patients with lower incomes and those with HIV
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
Officials with Prism Health North Texas announced this week that the agency is acquiring Community Dental Care of Texas to provide dental services to both people living with HIV and others. The practice will become known as Prism Health North Texas Dental Care.
The practice has been a recipient of Ryan White funding, and Prism CEO John Carlo said the practice already serviced many of his existing patients.
Community Dental has been providing low-cost dental care in Dallas since 1968 and today has three offices — in Farmers Branch, on Park Lane near Greenville Avenue and on Gaston Avenue near Baylor Hospital.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people are unable to afford dental care than any other type of healthcare. That’s one of the reasons, Carlo said, that his agency wanted to add a dental practice to its community health operations. He called the partnership with Community dental a great opportunity.
Among people living with HIV, the number of people receiving regular dental care is even lower than the population in general. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, about 64 percent of people living with HIV don’t receive regular dental care.
But Prism Health’s findings among its own patients are even worse: Only 16 percent of those using Ryan White funds for medical care had evidence of an annual dental visit.
So increasing the availability of dental care has been on Carlo’s radar for some time, he said, but the pandemic was a factor in the acquisition.
“COVID was horrendous for dental care,” Carlo said, adding that not only was the pandemic bad for people receiving proper dental care, it was also bad for dental practices.
That played into why the practice was for sale. For a period during the pandemic, dental offices were closed and there was little dentistry that could be done through tele-health or in person through a face mask.
So while Community Dental was looking for a new partner, “we were looking for a dental practice,” Carlo said.
But Prism’s dental offices won’t just be for people with HIV. Carlo called it a hybrid program.
He said he hopes to retain Community’s low-income patients while offering services to Prism’s patients. “So many people have dental needs not being addressed,” he said.
Addressing those needs for people living with HIV as well as others, he said, was a good direction for his agency, whose mission is community health and medical care.
Resource Center has been providing dental care for people living with HIV since the 1990s.
Carlo said Resource Center has been incredibly helpful already and offered any assistance Prism would need to expand dental care to the community.
Carlo said there was such a great need for additional dental care in the community, he hoped the Prism’s acquisition would make a difference.
“CDC has an incredible legacy of providing critical dental care for so many people here in Dallas,” Carlo said. “We look forward to continuing this important work and build together an even bigger safety net of healthcare services.”