Caring for our Community

close-up of a shelf containing canned goods

The Help Yourself Shelves at Pen Bay and Waldo make nutritious foods available to anyone who needs them.

A Day in the Life of a Food Security Champion

Follow Community Health Program Manager Deidre Dority for a day to see what goes into managing the food security program for two hospitals.

Breaking Down Barriers to Care

Sometimes, the biggest barrier to taking care of your health is not knowing how to begin. Thanks to a new community health initiative at Pen Bay and Waldo, figuring that out has become a little easier for people in the communities we serve.

Pen Bay and Waldo launched their community health worker (CHW) program in August. The program is designed to help community members who have historically faced health care access barriers, such as:

  • Lack of transportation
  • Lack of insurance
  • Discomfort with navigating the medical system

Thanks to this program, community health workers (CHWs) are now travelling out into the local community to meet with program participants who might have otherwise gone without needed care.

“By going out and meeting patients where they are at, we are able to care for our community members in a new way. It’s an important step in fulfilling our vision of making our communities the healthiest in America,” said Jemma Penberthy, director of community health for Pen Bay and Waldo. “The program connects patients with existing resources and services to help them manage their health.”

“There are so many wonderful community partners who offer programs and resources that can help with social determinants of health like transportation, insurance and food insecurity,” Penberthy said. “The goal is for the community health workers to amplify the resources that already exist and help break down barriers to accessing them.”

The CHW program, which is provided at no cost to patients, allows CHWs to work with patients for a period of three months. They work together to set health goals and overcome challenges, from navigating a new medical diagnosis or identifying sustainable transportation options to applying for SNAP benefits and learning to cook meals at home.

In addition to finding available resources, CHWs can help patients complete applications or make phone calls on their behalf−tasks that frequently become barriers to care.

“There are folks in the community who haven’t always caught a break,” said Frances Butler, CHW for Waldo County. “Poverty can lead to poor health, and poor health can lead to pain, depression, anxiety and isolation. If I can make a connection and help figure out how to take even one of those things away, then I’ve helped.”

The CHW program is open to patients age 18 and older who live in Knox or Waldo counties in Maine. Patients are referred through providers and community partners, including food pantries and soup kitchens, schools, shelters and CAP agencies.

Join the CHW Program

Contact us to learn more about participating in the CHW program as a patient.

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Waldo County Dental Care Celebrates 10th Anniversary

A decade after bringing Waldo County Dental Care (WCDC) to our community, Waldo County’s only “safety net” dental clinic is still in high demand. WCDC is the only dental provider in Waldo County that accepts MaineCare.

“Dental care plays an important role in a person’s overall health and personal well-being,” said Amanda Hood, manager of WCDC. “Our goal is to provide care to those without a dental home, alleviating pain and infection, while restoring oral health.”

In 2023, WCDC celebrated its 10th anniversary of increasing access to dental care and providing critically needed services to low income, uninsured Waldo County patients. Since opening its doors in July 2013, WCDC has treated more than 4,000 patients. In FY23 alone, the clinic saw more than 700 people, representing more than 1,700 patient visits. That translates to more than $280,000 in services covered by the clinic.

The WCDC team includes a dentist, a dental hygienist, two dental assistants and a receptionist. The team provides  dental cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, fillings, extractions and limited dentures to patients, many of whom have not received dental care in years.

While there is a waiting list for preventative and restorative services, WCDC never turns away a dental emergency. The clinic typically treats 25-35 emergency patients per month.

“Emergency dental care isn’t just a service we offer, it’s one of our top priorities,” Hood said.

Waldo County Dental Care serves pediatric patients covered by MaineCare as well as adult patients age 18 and older who live in Waldo County and have not seen a dentist in the previous 12 months.  Income guidelines start at $29,160 for one person and increase by $10,280 for each additional person in the family unit.

Get to know WCDC!

Learn more about Waldo County Dental Care.

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