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By ABBY SOUZA
Thanks to a $320,000 grant, Tuolumne General Hospital officials working on opening a dental clinic will be able to provide more service than originally planned.
The grant comes from a community development block grant obtained by consultant Terry Cox. She was appointed by the county to work on TGH grants.
Community development block grants are state Department of Housing and Community Development money given to counties or cities to loan to businesses. Because TGH is an enterprise fund a county entity expected to make money it is considered a business, and is eligible for the block-grant program.
Once the business repays the grant, the money is loaned to another county business.
To qualify for block grant money, businesses must provide housing, community facilities, public services or aid economic development for low-income residents.
That is exactly what the dental clinic's purpose is, said Kathryn Johnston, director of ambulatory care at TGH and overseer of the dental-clinic project.
"People are still calling daily to get on the waiting list," Johnston said.
The roughly 900-square-foot dental office is almost ready.
Located where the old obstetrics clinic was in the primary care building, the dental clinic will have a waiting room, three exam rooms, a lab, front office and an office for the chief dentist.
"It's a small space, but we're trying to make it as open and inviting as possible," Johnston said.
For example, the exam rooms don't have doors and are each painted a different color with matching decor.
"We've color-coded our rooms," Johnston said of the pink, blue and purple rooms. "I haven't picked out the counter tops yet."
The block grant will help TGH pay for extended staffing of the clinic, allowing for late weekday and weekend hours. That way, Johnston said, kids don't have to be pulled out of school for dentist appointments.