One Health Ohio Expands Dental Care with New Office

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The newest expansion for One Health Ohio is in a place very familiar to CEO Dr. Ron Dwinnells. The dental clinic in Northside Medical Center is just a stone’s throw from where he started his medical career as a resident at Tod Children’s Hospital.

“Dental was a significant part of Northside even back then. I was a patient here. It was devastating to the community when it closed a year ago,” he said Friday at the office’s grand opening. “Having a dental program available to the community is essential. There are very few dental providers who will take uninsured patients, Medicaid patients, Medicare patients.”

In the 34 years since he launched One Health, providing care to under-insured and uninsured patients has been at the core of the health-care organization. As a federally qualified health center One Health is considered a “safety net organization,” providing all types of primary care to all patients.

“From Day One, 34 years ago, we’ve always had dental as a partner in our medical program,” the CEO said. “It’s an incredibly important part of our health-care delivery. We practice an integrated medical model; the other term for it is holistic health. If your teeth aren’t any good, then you’re body isn’t any good.”

In the weeks since the dental clinic opened in Medical Building A on Gypsy Lane, the staff’s schedule has been full, reported One Health dental director Dr. Christopher McCord. 

“There’s obviously a need in this community. It’s a nice problem to have, but it’s been filling up quickly here,” he said. “A lot of people have toothaches; it’s a main reason for missed work.”

In addition to the office at Northside, One Health operates four other dental clinics – the organization has 31 operatories, or dental chairs, in all – as well as a mobile van that primarily travels to area schools.

“We can go into schools and offer exam services and cleaning services, the things that can be hard if you’re a parent,” McCord said. “You’re getting them out of school and driving to the dentist office. This way, we can go to the schools.”

While it’s often pushed to the sides of health care, dentistry is just as important as any other aspect of health, McCord and Dwinnells said. Oral hygiene can serve as an indicator for a plethora of medical conditions, from pneumonia to cardiovascular disease to birth complications.

“Women who have poor oral hygiene have a higher rate of giving premature birth. They don’t know exactly why, but there’s a correlation,” Dwinnells said. “It makes sense that you medical and dental should always be together as part of health-care delivery. … If you have poor oral hygiene and bad teeth, you’re not going to eat as well, as nutritiously.”

The idea of total health is what’s driven One Health’s expansion over the years. In May, a subsidiary, Rise Recovery, opened a second location in Warren to join the initial site on Belmont Avenue in Liberty Township. One Health also offers behavioral health services, family medicine, pharmacies, nutrition services and lab testing.

And while One Health doesn’t have the breadth that companies like Mercy Health or Steward Medical Group have, it doesn’t have to, Dwinnells said.

“We’re not as volume-oriented as the hospitals. We’d never be able to compete with the hospitals nor do we want to. They’re not our competitors,” he said. “We provide outpatient clinical care. We do a lot of preventive care and education. That’s the niche we’ve created.”

The next major step for One Health Ohio is the opening of a center on Glenwood Avenue in the former Bottom Dollar food store. Last year, the nonprofit health-care organization purchased the building from the city of Youngstown for $150,000 and outlined a $4 million renovation plan for it. Friday, Dwinnells said among the plans are to build a community kitchen, greenhouses and exercise areas. 

What’s driving the development, he continued, is the idea of full community health and expanded the traditional doctor-patient relationship to include the community around each.

“We want to revitalize the area from a health-care perspective. We want to do a different type of approach. I call it a three-dimensional approach,” the CEO said. “I want to address the social determinants of health. In that area, it is a food desert. People who live in that neighborhood don’t have easy access to fresh produce and foods. We want to be part of that delivery system.”

Work on the building is still underway. One Health marketing director Megan Kovacich said plans are for it to open by the end of 2020.

Addressing community health also means working beyond the doors of One Health offices. The day before the ribbon cutting of the dental office, One Health donated $25,000 to Family & Children First Council of Trumbull County to support trauma-informed care programs, which educate communities on how to recognize and treat mental and behavioral health issues that stem from trauma.

“There are a lot of people who suffer from PTSD and kids who suffer from forms of PTSD. They don’t grow up and function well in communities,” Dwinnells said. “These are the folks who are drug addicts, suicide victims, depressed and so forth. Trauma-informed care is a way to get information into the community and teaching people how to recognize it and intervene. It’s another form of health-care delivery.”

With the expansion, there are no plans to change the type of care One Health provides to the communities it serves. 

“We’ve seen over 1 million patients. We put in over $100 million of finances into the community through the jobs we produce and the things we buy,” he said. “We’ve had an impact, but we’ve been kind of a silent partner in the community. And we’ve saved a lot of lives and improved a lot of lives.”

Pictured: One Health Ohio CEO Dr. Ron Dwinnells, center, joined dental staff to celebrate the grand opening of the health-care organization’s new dental clinic at Northside Medical Center.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.