Vernon Community Dental Access Centre’s front office staff Loris Halvorson, from left, Dr. Carmel Hopkins, Wendy Wildeman, Ruth Urbatis, Renata Listor, Natasha Naten, from bottom left, Linda Lutz and Sheri Miller celebrated the opening of their newest operatory on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)

Vernon Community Dental Access Centre’s front office staff Loris Halvorson, from left, Dr. Carmel Hopkins, Wendy Wildeman, Ruth Urbatis, Renata Listor, Natasha Naten, from bottom left, Linda Lutz and Sheri Miller celebrated the opening of their newest operatory on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)

Vernon dental clinic adapts in COVID-19 pandemic

Vernon Community Dental Access Centre implements changes, appoints new president

A trip to the dentist never tops the list of anyone’s “want to” list, but in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown, when the industry was halted temporarily by health restrictions, some may have learned they were taking that service for granted.

The Vernon Community Dental Access Centre (CDAC), a local reduced-cost non-profit charity, was just as hard hit by the novel coronavirus, according to office manager Linda Lutz.

“But we’re back and running and we’re doing fine,” she said.

The clinic, which reopened to the public in June, has implemented all the necessary COVID-19 protocols to ensure the public and staff are safe.

Lutz said the waiting room is limited and clients must call ahead to make an appointment. Upon arrival, clients are required to wear a mask in communal areas and sanitize their hands.

“People have been very respectful of that,” she said.

Dentists, especially, are pros when it comes to limiting the spread of germs, Lutz said.

“Infection control is our specialty,” Lutz said. “Dentists deal with people, saliva and germs all day, every day.”

However, personal protective equipment (PPE) has been challenging to get to the clinic as prices have gone up, Lutz said.

“We have to have it or we can’t work.”

Even with all the protocols in place, additional measures have been implemented to further limit the spread of COVID-19. Lutz said extra suction is used on patients when ultrasonic is in use and staff in the front office have been reduced to ensure physical distancing, but the biggest defence against the virus takes place at the door with thorough screening.

“If there is any possibility of any kind of exposure or symptoms, we’d postpone for a couple of weeks just to be sure,” Lutz said.

Recently, CDAC received a donation of a washer and dryer which Lutz said is “very much appreciated.”

“In the past, we’ve been taking home laundry,” she said. “We can’t be doing that anymore so this is so much nicer.”

Lutz said the dental clinic’s quick adaptation to the ever-changing conditions brought on by the virus wouldn’t have been possible without her amazing staff.

“I have the best team that I could ever imagine,” she said, noting in the midst of the crisis, staff were required to learn a brand new computer software to perform their daily duties. “They took it like champions.”

The newly appointed president Sharon Melanson echoed Lutz’s sentiments.

“Linda really runs that clinic,” Melanson added. “The board may oversee and approve what they do, but she is the driving force of that clinic. She’s amazing.”

Melanson, who has been with the board since 2013, has filled a number of roles with the charity before her fall appointment.

“We’re very thrilled to have her on board,” Lutz said of the new president.

Melanson extended her sincere gratitude to her predecessor president Vic Lepp for his years of dedication.

The goal this year, Melanson said, is to get some new members for the board of directors.

“It would be nice to have someone with some marketing background,” she said. “They don’t have to have a dental background at all _ we have people on the board who have that. We need people who have other skills. Lots of other skills.”

She said younger people with an understanding of social media platforms and marketing skills would be a great asset to help get the word out about the clinic.

Melanson said becoming a board member isn’t a huge time commitment but the work is very rewarding.

“There’s no one else in the community that does what we do,” Melanson said, noting she worked as a dental hygienist in the Kelowna area for several years and had a hand in starting the Gospel Mission dental clinic.

“We get exposed to everyone,” she said. “We know how bad things are if people can’t afford a dentist. I’ve heard horror stories. It really drives you to do what you can.”

The Community Dental Access Centre is located at 3107C 31st Avenue in Vernon. To learn more about client eligibility, visit communitydentalaccess.ca or call 778-475-7779.

READ MORE: Dental care access takes centre stage in Vernon

READ MORE: New Vernon operatory opens doors for more affordable care


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Vernon Pickleball Association members Rob Irving, from left, Myron Hocevar, Don Friesen and Ian Phillips flank Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, centre, inside the newly roofed Okanagan Wealth Advisors Pickleball Complex at Marshall Fields. (City of Vernon photo)
Vernon pickleball group raises new roof on complex

Vernon Pickleball Association’s Okanagan Wealth Advisors complex available now for year-round play

Lake Country’s Airport Inn may become the future site of long-term rental housing. (File photo)
Rumours persist long-term rentals slated for Lake Country Airport Inn site

Sale of controversial highway-side accommodation not final, no development permit application applied for - yet

Okanagan Landing Bench Road will be closed between Okanagan Landing Road and Bench Row Road Wednesday, May 19, from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 3 p.m. for maintenance and line painting. (City of Vernon graphic)
Vernon road to close for eight hours

Okanagan Landing Bench Road will be shut between Bench Row Road and Okanagan Landing Road Wednesday, May 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Coldstream Fire Department was quick to arrive and knock down a fire Sunday, May 16, in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Coldstream fire crews quick to knock down blaze

Fire broke out just before 2:30 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road

Crews battled a grass fire behind the Tolko mill along the railway tracks off Otter Lake Cross Road in Spallumcheen Monday, April 26. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)
Reports of man lighting Vernon fires with blowtorch

Grassfires sparked near train tracks, behind bottle depot

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

WorkSafe BC is out in the Interior making sure wineries, cideries and breweries are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. (File photo)
WorkSafe visiting Interior wineries, cideries and breweries ahead of tourist tasting season

40 field inspections and 35 consultations are expected over next few weeks

B.C. RCMP released these two photos of Erick Fryer (left) and Carlo Fryer (right). The two brothers from Kamloops were found dead near a remote road in Naramata May 10, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Slain Kamloops brothers found near Penticton not likely connected to recent B.C. gang wars: RCMP

Police confirm the bodies found near Naramata as Erick Fryer, 29, and Carlo Fryer, 31

Several RCMP cruisers stationed out front of Kelowna’s Global Fitness following a shooting on the morning of Monday, March 29. The shooting was later revealed to be gang-related. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
B.C.’s top gangs are operating in Kelowna: RCMP

‘We have all of the major gangs in Kelowna,’ said Supt. Kara Triance

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News file)
Kelowna RCMP promotion process tainted with bias: federal judge

An officer was passed over for a promotion in 2015

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Most Read