As dentists drop out of the workforce, rural communities suffer most

Ideally, Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center would employ 13 full-time dentists. But right now, with only two full-time and three part-time dentists, the center is straining to fill surging demand.

“At this point in time, we, like many other health centers, have had to say that we’re not able to take new patients,” Scenic Bluffs Community Health Center CEO Kim Hawthorne said. “We are triaging people.”

Last year, the center, primarily located in Cashton, cared for about 8,600 dental patients — a record-high. Still, roughly 2,500 people are sitting on the waitlist, “and that’s the people who’ve been willing to put their name on the list,” Hawthorne said.

The center is operating with half the workforce it had before COVID-19, she said. Stretched thin by high demand and burnt out from the pandemic, many dentists chose to retire early. Others refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine and had to resign, according to Hawthorne.

Source: As dentists drop out of the workforce, rural communities suffer most / Wisconsin Public Radio

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