05/12/13 — Commissioner: Put dental clinic on budget proposal

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Commissioner: Put dental clinic on budget proposal

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 12, 2013 1:50 AM

The county commissioner representative on the Wayne County Board of Health is encouraging health officials to include funding for a mobile dental clinic in its proposed 2013-14 budget.

"I have found in my limited experience in government that it's better to ask for what you want while everybody else is asking so that there's a larger pie," Commissioner Joe Daughtery said to the board last week.

"We're getting a lot of these kids coming to middle school with decaying teeth," he said, suggesting the need for targeting elementary school children with the mobile dental unit.

Madden said he has no problem requesting funding for the unit, but pointed out that it will alter the budget total.

"Right now I would probably request an additional $250,000 amount for that," he said, noting that it could be even higher, depending on the additional equipment within the unit.

"I'm just -- I don't want to say too much -- I'm not obligating anyone," Daughtery said. "I'm just saying, if the board supports that, I think it would be advisable to go ahead and get the funding committed on the front end in this budget process.

"I'm sorry. It's a little pet project of mine. I really am committed to the mobile dental program. I think it's one thing we can do for our children. It's revenue neutral at best and probably an income source based on Medicaid reimbursement."

Daughtery's suggestion came after Ken Stern, administrative officer for the Health Department, reviewed several changes to the budget, which is due to be presented to the county commission for approval.

The original version, for $8.6 million, a 1.4 percent reduction from the current operating budget, had been discussed at last month's meeting, but there wasn't a quorum to adopt it.

"We have made some changes since the last presentation," Stern said this week. "It's now $8,478,388, 4 percent less than the starting budget."

Among the changes made, he explained, were to cut a vehicle request from the Environmental Health section and instead of reclassifying an office assistant position, to eliminate it completely. Stern said his staff had also "tweaked revenue projections" to pare down the amount.

"I applaud you all for the budget, 4 percent less," Daughtery said, then asked whether the latest version included the mobile dental unit.

"Before I put it in there, Mr. Daughtery, I want to make sure we have a dentist," said Davin Madden, health director, calling it "the better approach, knowing the discussion we have had with the commissioners."

Daughtery said he would "highly encourage" the board to include it, saying it demonstrated the Health Department's commitment to the dental clinic and ensured the funding would be in place when a new dentist was hired.

Since Daughtery was elected in November, the board has had several discussions about the vacant dentist position, as well as concerns over the "no-show rate" of patients in the dental clinic.

Madden estimated the no-show rate of clients with appointments looms around 45-50 percent. Lately, a shortened operation schedule has helped with some of the issues, he added.

The health director said he had spoken with other health departments and, typically, in-house clinics face two problems -- getting referrals and getting patients there.

In other business, the board also voted to impose a $75 late fee for vendors registering for festival permits, if the application is received within 15 days of the event. Currently, the state requires the completed application be received at least 15 days in advance.