Residents in Whitman County expressed a need for more affordable dental care, and a new clinic set to open in Pullman aims to answer the call.
The building that once belonged to the now closed Fireside Grille on 1095 SE Bishop Blvd. will one day become the home of a Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic dental office.
Yakima Valley is a nonprofit that provides medical services to low-income residents. It currently has 10 locations in Washington.
"Our primary focus is to serve anyone who needs help regardless of their ability to pay," spokeswoman Amber Betts said.
The organization, which is a federally qualified community health center, provides multiple services, including family medicine, pediatrics and behavioral health care, but the Pullman clinic will only provide dental care, Betts said.
She said Yakima Valley closed the deal on the Pullman property last week, but there has yet to be an opening date scheduled.
"It's wonderful news for the community," said Troy Henderson, director of Whitman County Public Health.
He said Yakima Valley specializes in meeting the medical needs for rural and low-income areas, and will provide another affordable dental option along with the CHAS Health in Moscow.
Henderson is part of the Whitman County Health Network, which along with other health agencies, commissioned a survey in 2015 to determine the county's biggest health care needs. It was called the Community Needs Assessment and more than 1,000 residents responded.
They identified an "extreme need for affordable dental care" as their No. 1 concern, above transportation to services and access to nutritious food.
The Whitman County Health Network reached out to Yakima Valley to help fill this need.
Henderson said the new clinic won't solve all of the county's problems, "but it's a big step in the right direction."
Yakima Valley promises to serve anybody regardless of financial status or citizenship. As a federally qualified community health center, it qualifies for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, and offers a sliding fee discount program.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to email@example.com.