Affinity Health Center
Healthy teeth and gums are key to our overall well-being. Poor oral health can lead to serious illnesses. These include things like heart disease and pneumonia. Yet many South Carolinians don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford to pay for dental care. Affinity Health Center has stepped up to help. It provides dental care to those who need it most.
Located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Affinity’s dental program started in 2013 with a grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. The grant paid for the construction of a dental clinic and its equipment. It also paid for salaries for a part-time dentist and dental assistant.
Prior to this, Affinity provided medical care and support services to 500 patients with HIV, but it could not offer the dental care its patients needed.
“The Foundation was instrumental in enabling us to start our program,” said Anita Case, CEO at Affinity Health Center. “In addition to financial support, the Foundation provided resources and other support.”
In 2015, Affinity became a community health center. It expanded its services to additional vulnerable groups. It built a larger facility in 2018 and opened its dental practice full-time, serving patients five days a week. In 2020, Affinity added a hygiene practice to the program along with a full-time hygienist and an additional dental assistant.
“We’ve been able to address the growing needs of our patients and communities thanks to support from the Foundation and federal and private grants,” said Case.
To integrate dental services into primary care, Affinity:
- Works patients into the schedule quickly when the doctor discovers a dental issue during a medical visit. The dentist is committed to making this happen.
- Screens for diabetes during patient dental visits. A BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina corporate grant, in conjunction with Diabetes Free SC, helped Affinity add this much-needed service.
Affinity recently got a federal grant to add a dental residency program. The goal of the residency program is to recruit and train dentists who want to work in underserved communities.
At this time, Affinity serves 1,582 patients. In 2022, patients visited the dental clinic an average of 2.3 times. To keep up with demand, the health center needs an additional dentist.