PACS opens new dental clinic in Gateway

Learn who this new clinic serves. And, see how you can support PACS at their big fundraiser this weekend …

This modern, spacious building in the Hazelwood neighborhood is now the home of the Gateway Grace Dental Clinic, providing care to needy folks across outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

For decades, Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) has served outer East Portland neighborhoods from their Gateway location by operating the first food pantry in the area allowing clients to choose food for their families – and it’s now helping provide food security about 6,000 people a month,

And, since the early 1990s, PACS operated a medical clinic behind their thrift store on NE Halsey Street at 111th Avenue. As conditions changed, and more people had access to medical care, they closed the clinic not long ago.

But, just west of their building, PACS opened a new health care facility, the organization’s “Gateway Grace Dental Clinic” – officially dedicating it on September 9.

About to go into the clinic is dental assistant and office manager Carol James.

“As the medical clinic was being closed, we began conversations about having a dental clinic here; but we needed more space and more room than what was in the PACS building,” remarked dental assistant and office manager Carol James.

“We purchased this house, just west of our building facing NE 109th Avenue, and have renovated it to be our dental clinic,” James said. “And, since it’s not actually in the PACS building, we gave it its own name, to help reduce confusion about the location.”

Dental Hygienist Sharilyn Ritacca operates the clinic’s panoramic dental x-ray machine.

The clinic is run like a private practice; that is, clients are seen by appointment – it’s not a “drop-in clinic” James pointed out. “Our target audience are patients 18 years or older, who do not qualify for OHP, and can’t afford their own private insurance, and earn up to 300% of the federal poverty limit.

“The overarching benefit to the community is in our serving the good chunk of people, including senior citizens, who cannot afford to go to a dentist,” James told East Portland News.

Speaking at the clinic’s dedication is PACS Board Chair, Pastor Jonathan Russell.

During the dedication, PACS Board Chair Jonathan Russell said, “Here, we celebrate a new chapter in the vision of our mission

“At PACS, we look to Jesus Christ as our guide; He treated people as people, with dignity and respect; and, one of the first things that Jesus would do was to meet their physical needs.”

Serving one of their first patients in one of their several dental chairs at the newly opened clinic is Dr. John Ritacca, DDS.

“This dental clinic provides the opportunity for us to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, by offering care to those who would not otherwise receive it, and this is profoundly exciting to us,” Russell continued.

The street address of the Gateway Grace Clinic is 1424 NE 109th Avenue; it’s located just south of the Fly Fishing Shop that faces NE Halsey Street. Call 503-907-6768 for more information, or to see their webpage, CLICK HERE.

Cutting the ceremonial ribbon, opening the Gateway Grace Clinic are Dr. Robert Stafford, Becky Bradshaw, Carole James, Dr. John Ritacca DDS and hygienist Sharilyn Ritacca.

PACS Award Banquet October 13
Supporters of PACS will be gathering, starting at 4:00 p.m. for their annual fundraiser – which includes a Silent Auction and sit-down dinner. They’ll also honor those who have contributed to the organization’s ongoing success.

For ticket information: CLICK HERE. It’s being held again at the Embassy Suites Hotel-Airport, located at 7900 NE 82nd Avenue, 97220.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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