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Hillmorton Dental Clinic Opens

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Canterbury's largest new community dental clinic was officially opened today (Wednesday 1 December) at Hillmorton.

Canterbury District Health Board chairman Alister James opened the new $1.5 million state-of-the-art clinic at an official ceremony, held at the Hillmorton Hospital site on Sylvan Street.

This clinic is part of a nationwide upgrade of oral health services for New Zealand communities and part of a $13 million upgrade to the Community Dental Service for school children within the Canterbury region. The upgrade will see most of the region's 120 school dental clinics replaced by 12 fixed community clinics, supported by 18 campervan-style mobile clinics.

The Hillmorton Community Dental Clinic is the largest of the fixed clinics being constructed. While other clinics have a four chair capacity, Hillmorton is a six-chair clinic with a special-purpose room for patients in wheelchairs and another for patients with either limited mobility or needing a quiet environment. The wheelchair lift also reclines the patient into a similar position to that in a standard dental chair - it is believed to be the first to be used in New Zealand.

Canterbury DHB Dental Service Clinical Director Dr Martin Lee says the clinic will be able to cater for about 13,500 patient visits per year.

"What is also unique about it is it will eventually be accessible to people of all ages in the wider community - not just school children as part of Canterbury DHB's network of dental facilities redevelopment."

Mr James says he is very pleased with how quickly plans for the new dental redevelopment have become a reality.

The new clinic is "the jewel in the crown'' of the project, he says.

"We are looking to provide extended service to adults with access to the clinic during the school holidays,'' Mr James says. "Oral health is equally as important as every other health issue in the community.'' Hillmorton Dental Therapist Anna Youngson says the new clinic was a pleasure to work at.

"You certainly feel a lot more professional."

Another bonus is it will make communicating oral health messages to children and their parents, or care-givers more effective because they are required to bring their child to the clinic and sit with them through their check-ups, she says.

Canterbury's first community dental clinic was opened in May last year at Ashburton Hospital. Fixed clinics have opened in Akaroa, Ashburton, Kaiapoi, Rangiora, Hornby and Hillmorton. Further clinics are to open at Woolston, Burnside, Aranui, Northcote, Lincoln and Kaikoura and most are in the process of construction. All except Kaikoura will be open by the end of 2011. Sites for the clinics were chosen based on the areas with the highest need for dental care and after discussions with schools and other interested parties.

Meanwhile, 16 mobile clinics have been delivered to the Canterbury DHB, with a remaining two mobile clinics still to be received.

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