Hospital to close dental practice

With the departure of Dr. Jasmine Gear, hospital officials re-evaluate providing that service.

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A dental practice at Martha's Vineyard is closing.

The Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will be closing its dental practice beginning Nov. 20, following the departure of its dentist.

“We have made the difficult decision to close the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital dental practice effective Nov. 20, 2020. Our dentist, Dr. Jasmine Gear, has decided to leave Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for family reasons. We were so lucky to have her, and wish her all the best in her next endeavor,” the statement reads. “That said, without a replacement dentist, we have decided to rethink how we provide dental care to the community. We are actively exploring opportunities, potentially in partnership with other community health organizations and dental practices.”

The dental space will now be used as a “flexible clinical treatment space,” according to communications specialist Marissa Lefebvre.

The dental practice, which opened in 2007, consisted of five staff members, some of whom may continue working at the hospital. “There are a few individuals who are eligible for other positions at the hospital, should they choose to take them,” Lefebvre wrote in an email to The Times. The hospital’s dental practice oversaw 1,550 patients.

Healthy Aging Martha’s Vineyard founder Paddy Moore expressed concern about the dental practice closure, especially for the Island’s elder community. Moore said that seniors face a combination of problems in regard to dental care, such as loss of teeth with increased age, mixtures of medications, and oral health issues for those with cognitive diseases.

“Dentistry has been a problem on this Island,” Moore said. “You can imagine how difficult it is to provide dental care under COVID.”

According to medicare.gov, Medicare does not cover most dental care, procedures, cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, or dental plates, which also can also cause problems for many seniors, especially those living on a fixed income.