Northwest Colorado Health now operating dental clinic in Oak Creek |

Northwest Colorado Health now operating dental clinic in Oak Creek

Kari Dequine Harden
Steamboat Pilot & Today

South Routt Medical Center in Oak Creek.

OAK CREEK — Bolstered by a new partnership with Northwest Colorado Health, South Routt Medical Center will continue to provide dental services in Oak Creek.

“They are the only dental provider offering Medicaid to the adult population in Routt County,” said Stephanie Einfeld, CEO of Northwest Colorado Health. “It’s vital to keep it alive.”

Sustaining dental care can be financially challenging for a stand-alone medical center, Einfeld said, especially one that serves a large percentage of patients on Medicaid.

Partnering with Northwest Colorado Health allows South Routt Medical Center to access its more extensive resources as a federally qualified public health center and the public health agency for Routt County.

Northwest Colorado Health also provides dental services at its offices in Steamboat Springs and in Craig and through a similar partnership in Moffat County.

As with the Northwest Colorado Health clinic in Steamboat, the South Routt Dental Clinic takes patients regardless of their ability to pay. They accept most insurance, no insurance and the underinsured, offering a sliding fee scale.

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The collaboration helps South Routt Medical Center continue operating its dental clinic on a consistent basis, as services have been on and off for many years, according to Ken Rogers, South Routt Medical Center district manager and board president.

The medical center, located at 300 Main St. in Oak Creek, added a dental suite in its 2014 remodel but struggled to hire a dentist despite recruiting nationally. One came, and then left. Finally, near the end of 2016, Dr. Randy Hurley joined the team of health care providers.

Quickly, dental services were booked for appointments eight weeks out. Rogers said slightly less than half their patients are not from South Routt, with many people traveling to the only Medicaid dental provider in the county.

Hurley recently underwent major surgery himself and had to take time off.

But now they are back on track, Rogers said, especially with the new agreement with Northwest Colorado Health. The clinic is also served by dental hygienist Suzanne Hamill.

Hurley is at the medical center in Oak Creek on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with a dental hygienist working every Thursday. The clinic offers cleanings, emergency dental care, some root canal treatments, composite fillings, oral surgery and extractions.

And the importance of dental care — especially preventative — can be overlooked but not overstated, Einfeld said.

“It’s not just your teeth," Einfeld said. "Dental health does affect your entire body.”

“Dental health is medical health,” Rogers echoed. “There really is no difference.”