Health and Community Services
February 12, 2008

�Operation Tooth� Deemed a Success in Labrador

A creative and collaborative approach was the key element that contributed to the success of a pilot pediatric dental clinic in Labrador, noted the Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services, as he shared details of the project today. The pilot clinic, which aggressively addressed the wait list for pediatric dental surgery, was initiated by the Department of Health and Community Services, Eastern Health, Labrador-Grenfell Health and pediatric dentist, Dr. Geoff Smith.

"That we were able to provide treatment for so many children in Labrador, many of whom were in great discomfort, speaks to the enormous success of this innovative project," said the Minister Wiseman. "There is a great potential to use this new model of health care delivery in addressing other areas of need with respect to dental services."

Thirty-eight children in Labrador on a wait list for dental surgery requiring general anesthetic received much-needed treatment thanks to a surgical team led by Dr. Smith. The team travelled to the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on January 21 to carry out the 38 surgeries over a four-day period. The project resulted in the treatment of 95 per cent of children in Labrador that were on the waitlist for dental surgery as of January 2008.

"I am grateful to Minister Wiseman for the opportunity to move forward with this project, which we affectionately called �Operation Tooth�. The chance to provide dental care to an under-serviced group of children in need was deeply satisfying to me and to all those involved," said Dr. Smith. "I look forward to meeting with officials of the Department of Health and Community Services to finalize the plans for additional projects in areas of the province where children are in great need of accessing dental care."

In addition to providing immediate treatment, the pilot project enabled children to receive surgery in, or close to, their home communities in Labrador. Typically, patients are placed on a waiting list at the Janeway Children�s Hospital in St. John�s and flown in for treatment. The total cost of the project was approximately $48,000, which was offset by cost savings in air travel for the young patients.

"The service that was provided by the surgical team was extremely satisfactory and feedback from patients and families has been very positive" said Boyd Rowe, CEO of Labrador-Grenfell Health. "Furthermore, there was great cooperation and dedication from our staff and the visiting team which helped to make this project a success."

"I am very pleased with what was achieved by the collaborative efforts of our government and everyone involved in this exciting pilot project," said the Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs. "The fact that so many children of this region received very necessary dental surgery without the inconvenience of having to travel outside of Labrador speaks to the success of this initiative."

"This pilot complements our Dental Bursary Program which we recently introduced to improve accessibility of dental services, particularly in rural areas," said Minister Wiseman. "Because of the success of this clinic, we are exploring the possibility of bringing additional clinics to other under-serviced areas of Newfoundland and Labrador."

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Media contact:
Glenda Power
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741

2008 02 12                                                 9:50 a.m.


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