The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

November 13, 2013

Center will fill need (and cavities) in region

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown-area residents in need of a dentist now have reason to smile.

The Salvation Army Johnstown Dental Center will be open each Friday on the ground floor of the Feeder Canal Building at 647 Main St., in downtown Johnstown, to help fill a need in our community.

“It is not only for poor people, said Maj. Joseph F. Pawlowski. “We take all forms of insurance, including (Medicaid) Access. We will work on payment plans.”

That’s great news for our region. Dental care is more than just about having a pretty smile and healthy gums. Pawlowski told reporter Randy Griffith about a 16-year-old Johns-town youth whose untreated cavity developed an infection that eventually led to his death.

That’s a tragedy that should not happen in this day and age.

“Dental health is the No. 1 unmet health need

in the United States,” said Dr. Joseph Sheridan, medical director for United Healthcare, which provides managed health care coverage for Medicare and Medicaid recipients in our region.

The local center will be modeled after a successful center that is already

operating in Oil City, Venango County. Pawlowski expects the local office to eventually serve more than that location, which sees about 250 patients each week.

The Johnstown location, which will be staffed by Dr. James Mancini of the Oil City location until Dr. Gary Gusmerotti – who currently is practicing in Wisconsin – arrives, will be about more than just lessons on how to correctly brush and floss.

“This is the kind of care that you would receive at any dental office, anywhere,” Sheridan said.

We’re glad to hear that. We know that there are plenty of people in our region who see dental care as an expense that they just cannot afford. But quality health care – dental or otherwise – should not be seen as a luxury. It’s very real and very necessary – as anyone who has ever had a toothache can attest to – and should not be overlooked.

We welcome Drs. Mancini, Gusmerotti and the rest of the Salvation Army staff to Johnstown and we encourage local residents in need of dental care to visit the center.

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