UMC Dental Clinic In Danger Of Closing

EL PASO, Texas - Dental services at University Medical Center could be on the chopping block.

That would mean about 1600 patients would have to find another place to go to.

Spokeswoman for UMC, Margaret Althoff-Olivas tells ABC-7 there is not enough money coming in from patient visits.

Right now it costs about $710,00 to operate the dental clinic annually. The clinic is only seeing about $290,000 from patients leaving taxpayers to pick up the cost at almost half a million dollars per year.

Althoff-Olivas says UMC's only dentist submitted her resignation letter in November, leading hospital officials to conduct a review of the program.

"Our clinic is a small operation, it has one dentist. It doesn't provide a wide range of services," said Althoff-Olivas.

Hospital officials believe it is in the best interest of the patients and taxpayer to recommend to the Board of Managers of UMC to close the clinic's doors.

If services stop, patients would be referred to clinics in the area like La Fe, San Vicente and Project Vida.

Those clinics receive federal reimbursements to provide a wide range of dental services to patients, even those on Medicaid. University Medical Center does not get that funding.

A public hearing will be held January 6th at 5 p.m. on the 8th floor at UMC.

Shortly after, the UMC Board of Managers will make a decision.

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