AP NEWS

Dental clinic hits the road in Bridgeport

February 28, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Ludwig Spinelli knows that not everyone can see the dentist as often as they should. That’s even true of clinics such as Optimus Health Care, of which Spinelli is CEO, which offers dental care and other health services on a sliding scale and caters to lower-income people.

“Not everyone can get out and come to a fixed dental site,” he said. “They might not have access.”

That could be due to transportation barriers, scheduling or any number of problems. To help overcome those obstacles, Optimus is hitting the road with a new mobile dental clinic. Christened the Optimus Health Care Smiles for Miles Mobile Dental Center, it’s a van equipped with two dental chairs and all the equipment necessary to render basic dental services, such as cleanings, screenings and x-rays.

The Bridgeport-based clinic — which has sites throughout the city, along with some in Stamford, Stratford and Milford — recently purchased the van from a Texas dentist for roughly $90,000. Spinelli said the van was paid for through a variety of fundraisers, including a golf tournament.

The van will travel to schools, senior centers, community centers and other places where people might need care. Maribel Rivera, Optimus’ director of dental practice management said that in the seven years she’s worked at Optimus, she’s been trying to get a dental van. She said she’s worked for other organizations that have used the mobile clinics, and they’re an effective way to deliver care.

“This type of program brings care right to people who need it,” Rivera said.

Spinelli said the beauty of the van is that it can travel the entire area that Optimus serves, and beyond.

“We can go to some places out in Greenwich, and then out into New Haven County,” he said. “It allows us to cover a large area.”

Since Optimus acquired the van, which is wheelchair accessible, it’s been redecorated to include the “Smiles for Miles” logo on the side, along with a cheerful picture of a happy group of teeth — one of which is wearing a hat — arranged across a stretch of roadway. The inside is bedecked with pictures of clouds and colorful raindrops.

Rivera said that though the van will initially offer only preventative services, the hope is to eventually expand its offering to include fillings, extractions and some other minor procedures. If patients require further care, she said, they would likely be referred to an actual fixed dental clinic that is better equipped.

Like other Optimus services, the mobile clinic will accept all forms of insurance, and payment on a sliding scale. For its school-based clinics in Bridgeport, only those who have insurance are billed, and the services are free to those without insurance.

Rivera said that although the mobile clinic is brand new, she has high hopes for it and the kinds of services it can provide.

“I know these programs work and that they provide excellent care to patients,” she said.

For more information Optimus Health Care Smiles for Miles Mobile Dental Center, call 203-696-3260.