SVHC opens dental facility on campus

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BENNINGTON — A new facility expected to help address a need for more dental health services in the region has opened on the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center Campus.

SVMC Dentistry is located in 1,890 square feet of renovated space on the first floor of the medical offices building. The project represents an investment of more than $1.2 million by Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

"Dental care truly is a component of primary care," said Dr. Michael Brady, medical director of the new practice. "I am happy to contribute to the health system's goal of expanding access to primary care in our region."

Brady will be joined by Dr. Richard Barbierri, Dr. Russell O'Connell, dental hygienists and other staff members.

In seeking state certificate of need approval last year, SVHC cited data showing a need for more dental services in the area, including that "a significant percentage of the population within SVMC's service area is afflicted with dental decay," and that "Bennington kindergarteners have the highest incidence of tooth decay among peers in Vermont."

A state report also showed that access to dental services in the region was limited, especially for new patients with Medicaid insurance coverage. And many area dentists were said to be aging, according to the application, with just over three in four 50 years or older and just under half 60 or older.

Brady said Monday that the practitioners expect about 70 percent of their patients initially to be on Medicaid, although that figure is expect to decline toward 60 percent over time. The dentists hope to work with primary care doctors to help meet a significant need for all primary medical services throughout the region, which includes communities north, south and east of Bennington in Vermont and in nearby New York state.

In addition to dental services by appointment, the facility will handle emergency dental care for patients who now would likely have to go initially to the SVMC ExpressCare facility — also located in the medical building — and then wait for follow-up dental care later when an appointment can be made.

"We can take some of that burden from ExpressCare," Brady said.

"We are really excited," he said. "And I am really pleased to be working with the two men I'm working with."

Brady and Barbierri are relocating to SVMC from private practices in the area, and both have practiced in southwestern Vermont for more than 40 years. The staff from each of the practices will also join the SVMC team, according to a release, and patients are being encouraged to follow the dentists to the new facility.

O'Connell worked in Wilmington and in Whitefield, N.H., prior to joining the new practice.

"Proper dental care is essential to overall health, and there is a tremendous need for dental services in Bennington and the surrounding region," said Trey Dobson, chief medical officer at SVMC and medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians.

He added: "This practice leverages the experience of our long-serving local dentists to draw new dentists to our area. This will provide much needed access to dental care and sustain it for the future."

Brady said the original plan for the facility called for four dental offices and related equipment, laboratory and office space. But a fifth dental office was added within the overall renovated space in the medical building.

The practice will offer a full range of services, including preventive cleanings and treatments, general dentistry, restoration, exams, crown and bridge, implants and cosmetic dentistry. The practice also will provide dental surgery and emergency care.

Patients will be accepted with or without dental coverage.

"I am excited about this, and I thank our forward-thinking board [of trustees]," said SVHC President and CEO Thomas Dee.

Brady and Dee said they expect the new practice, which opened on Monday, "to be very busy right from the start."

The offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The facility is located in Suite 104 of the Medical Office Building at 140 Hospital Drive.

The SVHC service area is described as Bennington County, western Windham County; eastern areas of Rensselaer and Washington counties in New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts.

Brady received his dentistry degree at Columbia University in 1972 and his bachelor's degree at Villanova University in 1968. He started his career as a dental officer in the Navy and has performed general dentistry in the Bennington area for 43 years, specializing in children's dentistry at Molly Stark Elementary for the past 18 years. He has been a member of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's medical staff since 1974.

Barbierri received his bachelor's and dentistry degrees at the University of Maryland. In addition, he completed post-graduate studies in craniofacial pain at the Craniofacial Pain Institute in Maryland. He worked at Arlington Family Dentistry for more than 40 years.

O'Connell earned his degree in dental medicine at the University of New England College of Dental Medicine in Maine. He received his bachelor's degree in biology from Caldwell College in New Jersey. He completed externships at Deerfield Valley Dental Care in Wilmington and at Mountain View Dental in Whitefield, N.H.

The cost of the project was estimated in the SVHC application at approximately $804,000 for the renovation work, equipment and dental practice computer software. According to the CON application, that includes $319,102 for renovation work, $235,123 for medical and office equipment, $169,563 for software and associated hardware and $79,994 for X-ray and intraoral camera systems.

Dee said Monday the project was within budget and the only change was in designing in a fifth dental office for the practice.

More information will be available at svhealthcare.org/dentistry. The office can also be reached at 802-447-5525, or by fax at 802-447-5536.



Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. @BB_therrien on Twitter.

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