Pictured above: Dr. Katie Baron, DDS, an Axis Health System dentist, prepares to meet with the first dental patients at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare on Sept. 29, 2021. 

On Sept. 29, 2021, patients sat in dental chairs for the first time at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare (AIH), an Axis Health System clinic. It was a routine health experience, but an extraordinary accomplishment. A new dental healthcare option in Pagosa Springs is something to celebrate – for both staff and patients.

“We are so thrilled to be providing dental care in Archuleta County, particularly for folks who have struggled to find care in the past due to cost,” said Sarada Leavenworth, Senior Director of Strategy & Development for Axis. She said support from The Colorado Health Foundation, among other agencies, made this expansion possible. “It’s important for the community to know that we have a sliding-fee scale for eligible patients to make sure cost is not a barrier,” said Leavenworth. “We encourage everyone to reach out, make an appointment, and get your dental care needs met.”

Since opening AIH in 2017, Axis has worked toward providing dental services, adding to the medical, mental health and substance use services already provided at the clinic.  Now that the first dental patients have received care, Axis aims to slowly expand access to dental services – starting with vulnerable patients with the highest needs.

Meganne Damon, Oral Health Clinic Manager, said the needs in the community are high. “There are very few dental resources in the area. Due to the pandemic, the only Medicaid provider there had to close their doors.”  Damon said many AIH patients travel to get care at the Durango Oral Health Clinic, also operated by Axis. “However, many of our patients have barriers to accessing care, and one of those big barriers is transportation from Archuleta County.”

A new dentist, Katie Baron, DDS, began seeing patients at Durango Oral Health Clinic in September. Dr. Baron now splits her time to travel to AIH in Pagosa Springs one day a week. She is committed to providing a good patient experience.

“You can expect to be cared for like family,” said Dr. Baron. “Your concerns will be taken seriously, and we will work together to find the best solutions tailored to you.”

The first day of dental care at AIH was exciting for the team. “We were able to see a good number of patients,” said Damon. “Some were new patients, some in urgent need and one came straight out of their medical visit and was seen the same day for integrated care.”

Axis has been known in the region for six decades for behavioral health services, which includes mental health and substance use treatment. Since 2017, the clinic has offered integrated care, which combines medical, behavioral health, care coordination and now dental care. Integrated care allows patients to connect with multiple healthcare providers under the same roof – sometimes in the same visit. During the first day of dental care, Dr. Baron met with patients during their medical visits to talk about dental care and the services now available in the clinic.

Established patients at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare who want to schedule a dental visit should first call the Durango Oral Health Clinic to determine scheduling and availability: 970.335.2442. New patients of all ages are welcome at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare. To become a patient, call AIH at 970.264.2104.

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Axis Health System is expanding services with a growing team. Established in 1960, the nonprofit healthcare agency has nine locations across five counties. Axis is currently hiring dental hygienists, as well as other medical, behavioral and administrative positions. Learn more about joining our team in beautiful Southwest Colorado. To view current open positions, click here.

Pictured below: Axis Health System Dental Assistant Kylie Richardson meets with a patient at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare in Pagosa Springs on Sept. 29, 2021.

Dental clinic at Archuleta Integrated Healthcare