Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Backlog occurring at dental clinic


Due to a backlog of appointment requests, officials with the medical clinic in Haines are asking dental patients seeking routine cleanings and check-ups to be understanding and consider alternatives, including at the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) clinic in Juneau.

SEARHC has been without a permanent dentist in Haines about 18 months, and has been rotating interim dentists, including specialists, said Stacy Smith, a public relations specialist at SEARHC in Juneau. “The idea is to keep a dentist there continually until we find someone (permanently), but even so it’s not going to be seven days a week, she said.

The recent death of private dentist Dr. Patrick Smalley has added to the clinic’s workload, she said.

Some patients are claiming to have emergencies that aren’t, displacing others in more urgent need, Smith said. “We’re asking for people to assess their situations honestly. They should ask themselves, ‘Can I wait a few months until I get to Juneau?’ We’re asking people to look at other possibilities for care or allow their exams or cleanings to be scheduled out a few months or even six months out because there are people with emergencies.”

SEARHC has been actively recruiting for a dentist to station here, Smith said.