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Disability advocates want to make dental offices more accessible; Nominate your provider now

$75,000 earmarked to improve accessibility
Posted at 8:08 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-23 14:36:19-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — There are new efforts to make dental offices accessible to people with disabilities in southern Colorado.

News 5 Investigates showed you last year how many primary care medical clinics didn't have the proper equipment to transfer people from wheelchairs onto exam tables.

The Independence Center stepped up to plate and donated $75,000 in accessible equipment to local medical centers in 2018.

The non-profit is now pledging to earmark another $75,000 this year for dental care providers.

You have the opportunity to nominate your provider now through Sept. 13. You'll be required to submit a summary outlining your dental office's need for new accessible equipment.

The Independence Center will then read over the entries, interview the dental offices and select a handful of providers to award new equipment.

Unless you're in a wheelchair, you probably don't think about how someone gets onto the standard chair at the dentist.

"We find that a lot of patients prefer to have the exam done in their wheelchair," Carrie Baatz, the community training coordinator at The Independence Center said. "The problem with a manual wheelchair is that you don't have a mechanism where you can lean back and have your neck supported."

Now, there's a new piece of equipment called Versatilt, and it's transforming the way people in wheelchairs get dental care.

Patricia Yeager, the CEO of The Independence Center says the product costs about $15,000. It's not cheap, but she says it's needed in the healthcare industry.

"You come in (to the dental office) with your wheelchair and it's a frame that you roll onto," Yeager said when describing the equipment. "You're strapped into the frame in your chair and the frame tilts you back so that the dentist has you at the right slant."

Before this invention, Yeager says some people in wheelchairs avoided dental offices.

"Dental care can be very difficult when you're in a wheelchair," she said. "Primary care physicians are the first line of defense in terms of healthcare. The second line of defense is dental care. If you have healthy teeth, you're more likely to have a healthy body."

Perhaps the best part about the Versatilt frame is that it can be moved.

"It's mobile so you can take it from one exam room to another and one dental practice to another," Baatz said.

For more information on how the Versatilt works, click here.

To nominate your provider, click here.