The ribbon cutting ceremony at the new VA dental clinic.
Photo courtesy of the Phoenix VA
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Phoenix VA increases access to healthcare with new 35-suite dental facility

01/31/18

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Veterans Association unveiled a new 35-suite dental clinic on January 19, during a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the long-awaited facility.
The new 15,000-square-foot dental building adds 12 more treatment rooms than the previous location inside the ambulatory care center; in addition to the newest available dental equipment such as 3-D imaging technology and all new dental chairs. The clinic started seeing patients  on January 9.
“We’re really excited about this,” said Rima Nelson, Phoenix VA Health Care System director. “It’s been a long time coming, and there have been so many folks working hard to make this happen. So, to finally be able to cut the ribbon and start seeing Veterans in this state-of-the-art clinic is a huge point of pride for us to be able to provide this type of facility to our Veterans.”
The project was approved many years ago, but was delayed for various reasons before finally coming to fruition, said Dr. Daniel Ratkus, chief of dental services.
“There are 33 treatment rooms and two oral suites in the larger clinic,” Ratkus said. “There are two reasons for a new dental clinic – the first being that the older clinic had run its course after 14 years. Second, space at the medical center here is at a premium. Leadership here looked at services that could stand on their own outside of a hospital setting and dental was an obvious choice.”
Ninety-seven percent of the dental patients seen here are ambulatory and have the ability come in and out of the building without much assistance. Hopefully veterans will see an increased access to care with the larger facility, which includes a new dental laboratory that will have the same- or next-day service on most crown and bridge work, and the ability to perform ceramic restoration, Ratkus said.
 “We have to keep trying to stay in front of this growth,” Nelson said. “We’re committed to that. Keeping our capacity balanced with demand is an ongoing effort.”
In addition to the larger dental facility here, the next logical goal to help alleviate veteran’s wait times, and increase access to care with staff increases to make full use of the larger clinic, he said.
The new clinic also allows the Phoenix VA dental staff to train more clinicians. Seventy percent of clinicians nationwide are currently trained by the VA, and the new dental clinic allows for the return of the oral surgery residency program and an expansion of the student hygiene program.
For more information about the new Dental Clinic, visit www.phoenix.va.gov/services/Dental_Service or call 602-277-6426.