ABILENE, Texas (KRBC/KTAB)-As restrictions loosen, they Abilene Taylor Co. Public Health District
is re-opening its dental program. The program offers free services to those who qualify. The district is accepting applications and will officially re-open June 1st.

We spoke with Hailey Shirley. She is the health administrative coordinator for the health district.

“We see a lot of people that don’t have any insurance,” said Shirley. “We also see a lot of people that actually do have insurance, but they can’t afford the co-pays, or their insurance just doesn’t cover enough. So, they’re kind of needing someone to fill those gaps, and that’s kind of where we have come in.”

Through a recent grant, the Abilene-Taylor County Public Health District opened its dental clinic, offering a wide range of services.

“We can do dentures, bridges more basic services, cleanings, x-rays, fillings [and] extractions.”

The health district is well aware of the stakes surrounding COVID-19. During the limited stay-at-home order, the clinic was only able to fill prescriptions with doctors’ approval and perform emergency procedures.

“Of course everybody has a lot more on their plate since COVID-19 started,” said Shirley. “A lot of our staff–they’re doing amazing but they’re all doing a lot of jobs that aren’t their typical that they’ve never really had to do before.”

Staff are gearing up to protect patients and themselves. The health district is not requiring patients
to wear masks. However, they are discouraging anyone to accompany a patient unless he or she is a parent or legal guardian. Only one patient will be allowed in the waiting room, and staff will be cleaning facilities more often.

“Our dental staff have put extra measures in place,” said Shirley. “They always have worn face coverings anyway, but they will be wearing those face coverings at the start of the appointment until the end of the appointment.”

As the health district takes on more of its services, they also acknowledge more people need them.

“It’s a huge need in the community, and we recognize that,” said Shirley.