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Wheelchair-accessible dental clinic opens in Nova Scotia

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1st wheelchair-accessible dental clinic opens in Nova Scotia
A new dental clinic opened in the Halifax area on Sunday with the objective of making dental care more accessible to Nova Scotians living with disabilities. As Zack Power explains, advocates are calling it a step towards a fully accessible healthcare system – Oct 8, 2023

Getting dental work with a disability became easier on Sunday with the opening of what’s believed to be the first wheelchair accessible clinic in Nova Scotia.

TranscenDental Group at Waverley Road is fully wheelchair accessible, with a lift to transfer patients to the dental chair.

Previously those in a wheelchair would have to manually slide from their wheelchair to the dental chair. The process isn’t for everyone, forcing some, if able, to get their dental work done from their wheelchair.

“There are people with significant mobility challenges that have not been to the dentist in many years,” said Kevin Murphy, a wheelchair user. “Perhaps in some cases in their lifetime.”

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Patients use a sling, which attaches to a lift connected to the ceiling to hoist themselves onto the dentist’s chair. The process takes less than a minute and creates an easier way to access care.

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For Murphy, who’s been in a wheelchair since he was 14 years old, the clinic is a “gamechanger.” The former politician recently had a turn in his health, which created a decrease in his mobility. Since then, the disability advocate searched for a more accessible way to get dental care.

He didn’t find a wheelchair-accessible clinic in the province.

“The reality of accessing a clinic from a wheelchair — you have to find a practitioner that’s willing to recognize that there’s things that need to be done differently,” he said in an interview with Global News on Sunday. “For me that’s finding a ceiling lift.”

The Waverly clinic had to do renovations, and Murphy had the drive to push for it.

“I have always seen people with disabilities struggle to sit in the chair, and we as dental staff, always struggled to see them,” dentist Simardeep Hundal said.

“It occurred to me that doing that (installing a lift) will help a lot of people with disabilities.”

Currently, there are roughly 300,000 Nova Scotians who identify as living with a disability.

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