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County signs dental contract with Carabelli


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The head of La Casa Family Heath Services reassured Chaves County Commissioners that it will still provide dental care to the area’s poor and uninsured, but the commissioners voted to approve a contract with Carabelli Dental for indigent dental care as well.

During the Chaves County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday morning, Seferino Montano, chief executive officer of La Casa, indicated that the health services group is still providing dental care in the county at an Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell location, contrary to a statement in county documents that La Casa “had lost their dentists” and was no longer providing dental care in Chaves County.

“La Casa has no intention of closing its doors,” said Montano. “The month of July was the only time we weren’t providing dental services. But we do have a dentist that is moving from Portales to Roswell, and she’s going to be moving here in a few days and she will be resuming those services that are on campus at Eastern.”

He clarified that Chaves County residents were able to receive dental care from La Casa in July, even when the Roswell clinic was closed, but had to travel to Portales for it.

According to County Manager Stanton Riggs, the county has a current contract with La Casa, estimated at about $500,000 for the year, to provide medical, behavioral health and dental care to the indigent.

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He said that he sees the contract with Carabelli, which is for about $150,000, to serve as a back up or alternative dental care service for those who qualify.

“I don’t know how often we will use this agreement, but we might,” Riggs said.

Carabelli Dental, the business name for Au Crown Enterprise LLC, opened an office on North Main Street in Roswell in 2018. It has two dentists, Dr. Keon Ahghar and Dr. Sarah Usher, who have practiced here for three years, and two hygienists.

Drs. Ahghar and Usher, who helped bring the Mercy of Mission to Roswell this year to provide free medical, vision and dental care to people in the area and who also serve those diagnosed as disabled, said that the poor and uninsured are populations they want to serve.

“From our hospital residency training and experience, we understand these patients’ specific needs and are equipped to meet them,” said Dr. Ahghar. “By keeping the people out of emergency rooms, we are saving taxpayers money in the long run and we can help save the emergency room for emergencies. We provide high-quality, cost-effective local care for residents in need.”

Montano noted during the commission meeting that La Casa, which also operates in Curry and Roosevelt counties, had opened the Roswell dental location after commissioners encouraged the group to do so. He said it had taken time to meet the commissioners’ request.

“It is difficult because of funding, equipment costs, et cetera. We continued to work on it and was able to,” he said.

While he praised the county for its willingness to provide “invaluable” health services to indigent residents, he asked for fair treatment of the two dental providers should commissioners approve the Carabelli contract.

“The only thing I ask is that they (Carabelli) maintain the same level of services that we provide and the same type of reimbursement, that we not be treated differently,” he said.

Montano, who emphasized that the group is in Roswell to stay, also said that La Casa is planning to recruit a second dentist for Roswell and to relocate the Roswell dental service unit to somewhere more central within the city than the ENMU-R campus, which is at the far south end of Roswell.

Riggs indicated that the county puts a priority on medical and behavioral health services, paying for dental care only as money is available. Montano said that La Casa strives to continue care even when county funding has been spent.

County Finance Director Joe Sedillo told commissioners that the $150,000 for the Carabelli contract already has been budgeted for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

All five commissioners voted to accept the contract with Carabelli.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.