The Axis Health System Oral Health Clinic expanded and moved to 2530 Colorado Ave on May 1, 2017.

Axis Oral Health Clinic’s care spreads by word of mouth

By Karla Sluis, Axis Health System representative

Our community has a new reason to smile. 

From July 2016 to April 2017, the Axis Health System Oral Health Clinic in Durango had 1,066 appointments and served 521 adults and children who previously did not have access to dental care. To meet the increasing demand for care, the staff relocated to a larger location on May 1, 2017, and increased the capacity to serve more community members. 

Axis Health System, a regional healthcare nonprofit, took over the operation of the dental clinic from San Juan Basin Public Health on July 18. As with all Community Health Center sites, the Oral Health Clinic helps underserved families who are uninsured or on Medicaid, and offers a sliding-fee scale to those who qualify. The clinic’s director, dentist Kristine Hynes, said the first seven months of operation have been a big success. She said people are finding out about the clinic through word of mouth, and the practice is in high demand.

“We are making a huge impact in people’s lives, and educating entire families on healthy habits,” she said. “I think it’s important for the public to know that we’re here. We can be a resource for them if they feel like they don’t have anywhere to go.”

In May 2017, Axis also added one operatory and a dental hygienist at La Plata Integrated Healthcare in Durango. This addition allows routine screenings and cleanings for patients who have established a dental plan at the Oral Health Clinic. LPIH currently offers primary care, counseling, substance use treatment and other health services and support. Adding preventive dental care to the menu of options at LPIH is in alignment with the Axis mission of treating the whole person in one location.

Karla Sluis is a spokesperson for Axis Health System, a nonprofit that serves five counties at nine locations in Southwest Colorado.