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 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


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
81 new cases of COVID-19 detected in Interior Health Friday

One additional staff member at Kelowna long-term care home tests positive, no new deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Two arrested after attack at Vernon home

Police spotted around 43rd Avenue linked to Wednesday assault

Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton has been re-elected as Regional District of North Okanagan Chair Nov. 18, 2020. (Richard Rolke - Morning Star file)
North Okanagan district re-elects chair, vice-chair

Acton, Shatzko re-elected for third lap as chair, vice-chair

An Armstrong resident shared video of a beaver gnawing away on a stick to Facebook Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Robyn Civic Adnoh photo)
WATCH: Beaver gnaws away in Armstrong wetlands

A resident captured video of a beaver chewing happily in a local creek Friday

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Summerland’s cenotaph was originally installed in front of the high school. The old school was located close to the corner of Rosedale Avenue and Jubilee Road. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Cenotaph and parks in Summerland honour fallen soldiers

Community memorials pay tribute to those who were killed in military service

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read