Dental clinic opens for uninsured, low-income Albertans

October 23, 2023

AHS, GreenShield, Red Deer Street Connect partner to provide oral healthcare

RED DEER – Low-income Albertans living in the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS) now have improved access to dental services with the opening of a new public health dental clinic in the city.

AHS, GreenShield and Red Deer Street Connect have partnered to create the AHS Public Health Dental Clinic. The clinic is staffed by dentists and registered dental assistants with two fully equipped dental treatment rooms to serve the area’s high demand for dental needs. 

“This is a wonderful example of how partnerships can truly make a difference, ensuring that every Albertan gets the essential healthcare they deserve,” says Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health and MLA for Red Deer-North. “This clinic will enhance the quality and accessibility of healthcare in Red Deer and its neighbouring communities, while also helping to relieve the capacity pressures on our emergency departments.”

The clinic is for Alberta residents without dental insurance of any kind, individuals with income under low-income cutoff limits, and/or with a direct referral from the hospital emergency department for a specific dental emergency.

“The Public Health Dental Clinic in Red Deer is helping to bring oral healthcare to Albertans who have difficulty accessing health and medical support,” says AHS President and CEO Mauro Chies. “We are grateful to the generous support of GreenShield for helping to bring this vital service to those vulnerable to poor oral health outcomes in central Alberta.”

The clinic is supported by a $1.5-million grant from GreenShield, a not-for-profit health and benefits company, and represents an opportunity to mitigate oral health inequities in Alberta.

“The disparities in access to oral healthcare that persist, particularly among vulnerable populations, are concerning. As a not-for-profit health and benefits company, GreenShield is committed to improving health outcomes for Canadians as part of our social mission of ‘better health for all,” says Zahid Salman, President and CEO of GreenShield. “We aim to make vital healthcare services more accessible for underserved and marginalized communities and have committed over $20 million to help ensure all Canadians have access to oral healthcare services."

The clinic has supported more than 300 appointments since it began operating in June.  

“This clinic will have a big impact on central Alberta,” says Dr. Michael Mulholland, AHS Associate Zone Medical Director for Red Deer and Area.

“It is co-located with other services that support low-income individuals in Red Deer, such as AHS Street Connect and the Red Deer PCN Street Clinic, which rounds out the suite of services offered at that location.”

Individuals without dental insurance, or who are low income, can often be more vulnerable to poor oral health outcomes. This can often lead to individuals visiting hospital emergency departments instead of dental clinics for their oral health issues and emergencies.

Clients will be referred to the clinic through services like Street Connect, the Primary Care Network Street Clinic, Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and other services, such as the opioid dependency program. The clinic will provide basic care to patients, responding to common dental concerns such as cavities, toothaches and the need for extractions. 

In 2015, the public health dental clinics in Calgary received a separate grant from Green Sheild for supplemental support to enhance dental services for patients referred from emergency departments.  

About GreenShield

GreenShield is an integrated health and benefits organization and the first organization in Canada to operate as a payer-provider— offering insurance, administering benefits, and paying claims as a ‘payer’ while offering health services such as mental health, pharmacy, and medical services as a ‘provider.’ Integrating both sides of the payer-provider equation enables GreenShield to simplify access to care, remove administrative barriers, and improve health outcomes for its customers. GreenShield is uniquely structured as a not-for-profit social enterprise that reinvests its earnings and redeploys its services to support underserved Canadian communities via its social impact brand, GreenShield Cares. The company’s overarching goal is to generate $75 million of social impact investments to improve the lives of at least 1 million Canadians by 2025, with a focus on mental health, oral health, and essential medicines. As the industry’s noble challenger GreenShield continues to innovate, evolving its offerings and services to deepen its purpose of championing better health for all.

About Alberta Health Services

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.