The Doctor Is In: Scavo Launches Dental Clinic

Dr. works on , the first patient to use the new dental clinic at Scavo High School.

Dr. Peter Blough works on junior Kody Lopez, the first patient to use the new dental clinic at Scavo High School.

Wednesday morning at 9:00 the brand new Nolden Gentry Dental Clinic at Scavo High School received its first patient. Let the record show that junior Kody Lopez earned the distinction as #1. There will be many more where he came from.

Nestled among classrooms on the 4th floor at Central Campus, the clinic is the first of its kind at an Iowa school as Scavo, already the site of a community food pantry and a daycare facility, continues to grow into its designated role as a truly full-service school with a holistic approach to nurturing and preparing students.

The facility looks as polished as a freshly cleaned smile. All of the equipment is brand new and state of the dental arts. Even the magazines on the waiting room table are current. This is not some second-hand, makeshift operation fashioned from castoff machinery and staffed by novice practitioners in need of guinea pigs. Kody looked reassured as he settled into the chair of Dr. Peter Blough when Dr. Blough congratulated him on being the first patient and then hastened to add that he was not Blough’s first patient – not by a long shot. Blough  has plenty of experience in practice on the staff of Des Moines Health Center Inc.

Lyn Marchant, Scavo’s Community Service Site Coordinator, was aglow Wednesday morning as she and the rest of the office staff awaited Kody’s arrival, the latest milestone in Scavo’s remarkable journey from an oh-by-the-way alternative for at-risk high school students to a truly unique jewel of the district.

“This is so exciting,” she said while strolling the hallways and passing out toothbrushes and toothpaste as attention-getters for the clinic. “We are removing another barrier to school attendance by providing on-site health services (a medical clinic also officially opened Wednesday but did not have any scheduled appointments). Scavo is a school where students can get just about everything they might need. We’re a one-stop shop.”

The health clinics are authorized providers for purposes of insurance claims but Marchant emphasized that no one will be denied services. There is a sliding fee scale for uninsured students/patients. And the clinics will eventually serve the entire district.

“At first we will be limited to Scavo and Central Campus students,” she said. “But eventually, after we’ve settled in, we hope to be available for students from all over the district, and their families.”

Consider the old-school plight of an unwed teen mother living in poverty as a case in point. If she tried to stay in school and graduate who would take care of her baby? If she was in school instead of working how would she pay for groceries? If she had a toothache did she have a dentist? Odds were she was likely to end up a chronically dependent adult. But under the new-school, Scavo full-service model she could come to school, leave her child in quality daycare, see a dentist/doctor, go to class and stock her cupboards all in the same place and all at no cost. She would stand a great chance of achieving independence.

Not much more could be asked of a school than Scavo now provides. It has no cavities. Many of the reasons why kids dropped out of school have been recycled into additional reasons why they come. It’s practically the stuff of (tooth) fairytales.

The public is invited to the dental clinic’s formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on January 19th from 3:30-5:30. Come see and smile for yourself.

Click here to read more about how this was made possible thanks to community partners Delta Dental and the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation.

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Photos of the Scavo High School Clinic

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