Before taking her seat in the dental chair, Gerona Washington paused to survey the new clinical space at 5716 Wellness.
“This is so gorgeous,” she whispered repeatedly, as if she could not believe her eyes.
The attention to detail in Covenant Community Care’s new Family Dental Center at 5716 Wellness is meticulous. The space as a whole expresses dignity, comfort and competence. It blends modern design and state-of-the-art technology with historic elements that preserve the building’s heritage as a warehouse designed by Albert Kahn a century ago. The clinical area uses copious natural light to create a warm and inviting air. The waiting room is open and spacious. The entire effect conveys that the health of each individual has worth, regardless of his or her economic status.
“From the moment you enter the space, we want you to feel like you are entering a story that can become your own,” says Paul Propson, executive director of Covenant Community Care. “It is a story about wellness and wellbeing. Consumers should feel that they are important because the staff really cares and the context is beautiful. We hope that consumers leave feeling that they have received a gift that will encourage them to lead healthier lives and to pay it forward.”
The new dental clinic has been open for a month. It serves low-income residents who lack insurance or who have inadequate coverage. During the first week of April, the clinic served 138 people. About 70% of those served are from Detroit.
Patients pay for the dental care according to a sliding scale based on income. Two dentists, two hygienists, an oral surgeon, and support staff work at the clinic, which has seven dental stations and an x-ray area. The clinic is open during the day Monday through Saturday.
Many of consumers visiting the clinic had delayed taking care of their dental problems because they could not find quality and affordable treatment.
Shannon Hoskins, 40, came in because of infected nerves that will require root canal surgery.
“I had tolerated the pain for a long time because I couldn’t afford a dentist,” Shannon says. “But it finally reached the point where I couldn’t put it off any longer.”
Shannon was divorced four years ago and lost her medical and dental insurance. She is now working full-time, but the job pays minimum wage and provides no benefits.
“I am so happy to find this clinic,” Shannon says. “I don’t know where else I could go.”
Chastity Upton, 36, was laid off from her job in a warehouse and came to the clinic because of recurring abscesses that need immediate attention.
David Broda, 56, had worked in the auto industry, and has been unable to find consistent work since being laid off years ago.
“When you don’t have a good income and insurance, you have to make hard choices, and going to a dentist seems like something that can wait,” David says. “But it catches up with you.”
Charmea Hannah, 46, was at the clinic because she needs dentures. Before undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy for throat cancer three months ago, she had to have all her teeth extracted. Charmea had been working full-time for a clothing store.
“I had medical insurance, but no dental,” Charmea says. “This place is a godsend.”
Charlene Davis, 55, worked as a cancer registrar for a local hospital until serious health issues forced her to retire. She learned about the Covenant clinic through the United Way’s 2-1-1 service and came in to fix a broken tooth.
“So many of the people that we see at our clinic are really hurting and going through very difficult times,” says Maria Aloyo, who manages the Family Dental Center. “To work here, you must have a passion to serve and make a difference.”
Covenant is a faith-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrated, affordable and quality health care to those who need it most. Through its partnership with Southwest Solutions, Covenant became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in 2007.
In addition to its new facility at 5716 Wellness, Covenant has two other sites in southwest Detroit: one at our Waterman Outpatient Clinic; and the other on West Grand Boulevard. Covenant had provided dental services at the West Grand office, but has now moved this operation to 5716 Wellness.
At 5716, Covenant also provides a host of medical services, including primary care, pediatric, and obstetric. These services began Monday, April 18.
5716 Wellness is located at 5716 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, 48210. To contact the Covenant Family Dental Center, call 313-554-3880.