November 3, 2012

Bingham Health Center upgrades dental clinic offices

$300,000 project includes quieter space, new X-ray machine

By Rachel Ohm rohm@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

BINGHAM -- Dentist Tamara Diamond used to work out of a single room in the back of the Bingham Health Center here, but now she has four operating spaces and a brand new panoramic X-ray machine.

click image to enlarge

Dentist Tamara Diamond and hygienist Jackie Watson-Arsenault clean the teeth of patient Ronald Keith, 24, of Norridgewock, at the new dental facility at the Bingham Health Center on Wednesday

Staff photo by Rachel Ohm

It's an improvement for Diamond, 38, who recently moved to Bingham from Wisconsin, where she worked as a community dentist for the last 10 years, to take a job as the only dentist in this small town of just under 1,000 people.

"It's just a really nice space to work," said Diamond of the bright new office. "I came here to visit last April and just loved it. The area is beautiful and people are really friendly."

Last month the Bingham Health Center opened the doors of a new dental facility separate from the health center, a project that Health Council chair Chet Hibbard said has been in the works since the center opened 10 years ago.

Diamond said she knew about the plans to create a separate dental office when she took the job -- the last dentist worked out of a single room in the back of the doctor's offices.

Ten years ago, the Bingham Health Center was the first to open in a small group of clinics called HealthReach Community Health Centers. Office manager Rochelle Dumont said they have had a dentist on and off for the last eight years and that they always worked out of a few rooms in the back of the regular health center.

"It was really loud," she said. "We're excited to move to the new space and have the new X-ray machine."

Construction on the clinic was finished on Oct. 1 and the first patients were seen on the Oct. 4.

The Bingham Health Council did most of the funding for the project, which includes the separate dental center with its own entrance, reception and waiting area, equipment such as patient chairs and a panoramic X-ray machine.

Health Council Chair Chet Hibbard said the dental facility has been something the council has had in mind since the health center was first built but they didn't have the funds until this year. He said the total project cost about $300,000.

Hibbard said that many people in the area who use Maine Care do not have access to dental facilities that accept MaineCare unless they travel to Lewiston or Augusta.

"I think this means a lot to the people in this area," he said.

The center is still waiting for a grant from the state for two more new operating areas, which when completed will give them four.

"It's always been a dream of ours to have a separate building for dental practice and we're fortunate the health council has been able to provide this," said Dumont.

"It's a really nice concept and its much more suited to dental practice," said Jackie Watson-Arsenault, a dental hygienist. "When the sun is out it's really bright."

Rachel Ohm -- 612-2368
rohm@mainetoday.com

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