Visitors to the CPN’s South Clinic in recent months will have noticed the construction tarps and temporary drywall most recently adorning the Dental Clinic have been replaced by a newly refurbished office space. Featuring a staff of three full time dentists, two part time dentists, two dental hygienists, three dental assistants and two front office staff, CPN’s Dental Services are ramping up production to meet an overwhelming demand. Currently the clinic serves approximately 500 patients per month. Cherokee tribal member and CPN Dental Coordinator Chase Youngblood DDS sat down with the Hownikan to explain some of the services his department currently offers.
Why did you go into dentistry?
I always had an interest in health care related fields. Once I began to look closely into the dentistry, I immediately knew that it was something that I would love to make a career of. Not only do I get to get to work with my hands in a creative and artistic way, but I also have direct patient interaction. I am able to challenge myself and learn new things constantly. I do not know of another profession that allows me to combine these things with the rewarding experiences of making a difference in patient’s lives. I truly love my job.
How long have you worked at CPN?
I have worked with CPN for two years. I previously served as the dental director for the Kickapoo Tribe and the Absentee Shawnee Tribe. I can say without hesitation that my experience working with the CPN has far exceeded any expectations I had of how a tribal health system can be run. The professionalism and competence of all employees from top to bottom is unlike any other place I have experienced. I think this allows us to provide a level of service that other tribal facilities do not.
How does working at a tribal-run clinic differ from that of a private practice?
I have never worked full time in private practice, so this is a difficult question for me to answer. In speaking with my colleagues, I can say that not having to worry about patient finances for all of our procedures makes a big difference in the services that we are able to provide and further insures that our treatment decisions are made with their best and ideal interest in mind.
Are there certain challenges you face serving the CPN Health Clinic Patients that you normally wouldn’t deal with in a private setting?
The biggest challenge that we as a clinic face is the large service are that we are assigned to care for. The Shawnee Service Unit as defined by the IHS (Indian Health Services) makes up five counties. This means that we are designed to be providers for all Native Americans in this area. Our small clinic was unable to handle that workload. This resulted in a lengthy waiting list. The primary goal of our expansion project is to help us alleviate this waiting list and provide exceptional dental care to the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Can you describe the new updates the Dental Clinic has undergone as of late?
We have recently completed phase I of our construction project. This project involved a complete renovation of the area directly south of the previous dental clinic adding 7 additional dental operatories. We were able to take advantage of some great government pricing options which allowed us to incorporate top of the line equipment and technology throughout our clinic.
Phase II of the construction project is now under way. This involves a complete remodel of our previous dental area and replacing much of our aging equipment. Once construction is complete we will have 12 treatment rooms allowing us to increase access to care dramatically.
For those interested, the CPN Dental Clinic offers preventative care, teeth cleaning, annual exams and routine dental work. For more information, please visit www.potawatomi.org/services/health/clinics or call 405-878-4835.