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Homeless Utahns, The Dentist Will See You Now

Homeless Utahns will be able to get dental care at a clinic in downtown Salt Lake City thanks to a gift from a local business.  Alsco, a linen and uniform rental company has agreed to provide 125,000 dollars a year for five years to fund a full-time dentist at the Fourth Street Clinic. KUER’s Andrea Smardon reports that there is a pent up demand for dental services among the homeless and low-income populations.

Looking at the brand new dental chairs at Fourth Street Clinic, Russell Flowers breaks into a smile, revealing some missing teeth.

“Oh my God, do you know how many people that’s going to help?,” Flowers asks.

Flowers used to be homeless, but thanks to help from the Fourth Street Clinic, he’s got housing now. He wants to be first in line at the new dental clinic. which is slated to open next year thanks to a gift from brothers Bob and Kevin Steiner – the co-CEO’s of Alsco.

“I want to thank them guys from the bottom of my heart,” Flowers says. “There are a lot of homeless folks that are going to need that.  There’s a lot of dental work that needs to be done out there. When it really gets open, it’s going to be a godsend.”

Fourth Street External Affairs Director Jennifer Hyvonen says once the l clinic is up and running, it will provide comprehensive dental care to about 1700 patients in a year.

“It is such an unmet need among people who are poor and uninsured,” Hyvonen says. “People are living in chronic pain, with deteriorating teeth, very easily bleeding gums and abscesses can quickly spread to other parts of the body and cause life threatening conditions, and this dental clinic that we’re opening up is going to change that for our patients.”

The Fourth Street Clinic built the dental suite with a $2.9 million grant, but the ongoing operational and staff costs will be covered by Alsco for the next five years. The company will also donate garments and linen services that will offset current clinic expenses by an estimated $10,000 a year. The dental clinic will begin accepting patients in January.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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