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CHAMPAIGN — Promise Healthcare is tentatively planning a pause in its SmileHealthy dental services for kids and adults starting in June if the last remaining dentist leaves as planned at the end of this month, an official said.

The pause would last just a bit over a month, because another dentist is lined up to begin in July, according to Promise Healthcare Executive Director Jennifer Henry.

Promise Healthcare, also the parent organization of Frances Nelson Health Center in Champaign, had planned to begin pausing dental services earlier this month, due to the planned departure of its only dentist, Dr. Carlos Pirela, but Pirela has extended his time to the end of May, Henry said.

Unless there is another extension, dental services will be paused in June until the new dentist begins, she said.

SmileHealthy formerly had two dentists, but has been down to one since September, Henry said.

While dental services are paused, medical staff will be able to see those with emergency needs such as tooth pain or infections to offer oral rinses and antibiotics, Henry said.

SmileHealthy hasn’t had a wait list, but would likely begin one while dental services are on hold, Henry said.

“But we expect to work that down fairly quickly,” she said.

The new dentist joining SmileHealthy, Dr. Elizabeth Brito, was hired several months ago but is still finishing her education, Henry said.

Brito will be both continuing care for current dental patients and accepting new patients, Henry said.

Meanwhile, Promise Healthcare is planning to expand the SmileHealthy dental center at 819 Bloomington Road, C, from four to six dental stations and is recruiting to return to a staff of two dentists and one hygienist, Henry said.

Also changing will be eliminating an age limit of 5 and older for children for dental care, because it’s important for kids to begin dental care from the time their first teeth come in, Henry said.

As part of the recruiting process for dentists, she said, candidates are being told they must be comfortable treating this age group.

Also being recruited is one dentist and one hygienist for the Urbana-school-based health center, to begin in August or the fall, Henry said.



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