Chair-ity article

Look everyone, it’s me!! This article ran in this past sunday’s The Post Standard (syracuse) in the Cayuga section.

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Take a Seat, Please
Decorated chairs being offered to aid dentistry clinic

August 24, 2003
By Beth Beer
Staff writer

Rows of wooden chairs sit behind the plate glass storefront in Metcalf Plaza, waiting to be adorned and decorated by artists.

The finished product- an assortment of straight-backs, high-chairs, rockers, school desks, porch chairs, and a wheelchair- will be auctioned offin October in the Chair-ity auction at the Emerson Park Pavilion in Owasco.

These works of art are being commissioned to raise money for a more practical chair, a dental chair that will be added to East Hill Family Medical’s dental clinic in downtown Auburn.

The nonprofit medical clinic currently has six dental chairs. A dental chair costs about $12,000 and a fully equipped dental operatory costs between $25,000 and $30,000.

Laura Coburn, of Coburn Design and the chair of Chair-ity, said so far 21 artists have signed up to transform the chairs. To drum up interest, Coburn said decorated chairs will be put on display at various businesses and on the fund-raiser’s Web site.

Coburn said the purpose of the auction was not only to raise money, but raise awareness about the issue.

Local health and human service officials recognize the lack of dental providers for low-income families as a serious problem in Cayuga County.

The problem is made worse by families who can’t afford personal hygiene items like toothbrushes and toothpaste and can’t find dentists who will accept their insurance.

Gale Gould, supervisor of enrollment outreach program through the county Department of Health and Human Services, said as far as she knew, with the exception of East Hill, no dental providers in Auburn accept new patients with public health insurance plans.

“It’s a continuous problem,” Gould said. “Medicaid has few providers. If you’re an existing patient, the dentist might take you. If not, you have a harder time.”

The reimbursementrates for Medicaid and other public health insurance are typically less than the services rendered, and a good number of patients miss appointments.

“We have so many no-shows,” said Sue Cushing, vice president of operations at East Hill Family Medical. “It’s an incredible problem and we’re not sure how to address it. Sometimes it can be 30 to 50 percent of the day. That’s time when we could actually be getting new people in.”

East Hill is booked three to six months in advance, Cushing said. It predominately serves low-income families in the county enrolled in Medicaid or Child and Family Health Plus.

About 95 percent of the 8,702 dental visits in 2002 were Medicaid patients, Cushing said.

“We’re constantly expanding,” Cushing said. “The need is incredible. We still have a 16-page waiting list of people who are waiting to get in.”

Families whocan’t seek help in the county, turn to other counties or end up in the emergency room with serious dental issues, health officials say.

“I think until it affects you, people don’t realize dental health is such an integral part of their lives,” said Kathleen Cuddy, the county’s deputy director for health services.

Cuddy said school nurses deal with children suffering from toothaches and are limited in what they can do.

“They may be able to, with permission, give them some Ambesol to numb the pain, but that doesn’t take care of the source of the problem and so it continues,” Cuddy said.

Fluoridation of Auburn’s water supply has been a topic of discussion for years among local pediatricians, Cuddy said. In 1972, residents voted for a referendum to amend the City Charter, prohibiting the fluoridation of city water. In 1997, an effort to get another referendum on the ballot failed.

Health officials can quickly detail the dental problems they see.

People lose dentures and don’t have the insurance to replace them. Some are unable to get to an appointment because they have no transportation. Kindergartners go to the dentist needing baby root canals, full-mouth extractions and abscesses drained.

Preschoolersenrolled in the Head Start program run by the Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, undergo a dental examination.

“Sometimes it’s their first time,” said Gloria Griffin, executive director. “Several come in with serious problems.”

Griffin said sometimes the children and teens in the agency’s Take A Step Ahead program are transported to Rochester, Geneva and Syracuse to see a dentist.

“It’s an extremely serious problem in this community,” Griffin said “We support this fund-raiser 100 percent.”

If you go:

What: Chair-ity, an auction to raise money for a new dental chair at East Hill Family Medical in Auburn
When: Oct. 2, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. artist and sponsor reception, 6:30 to 7 p.m. preview, 7 to 8 p.m. silent auction, 8:15 live auction begins.
Where: Emerson Park Pavilion, Route 38A, Owasco
Admission: $10
To help: Artists are still being sought to decorate and adorn chairs. Chair can be provided. For more information, visit www.chair-ity.com. Anyone wishing to donate a chair, can bring it between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday to East Hill Family Medical, Suite 500, Metcalf Plaza, 144 Genesee St., Auburn, or arrange for pick-up by calling 253-6796.

2 Comments

  1. Avatar Mommers KIMMY! said:

    You are a celeb Beth! Can i just say I am so proud of my girls and their talents!

    August 27, 2003
  2. Avatar Erin said:

    COOL! WAY TO GO BASIE!

    August 26, 2003

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