TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation Health Services provides referral programs for patients needing dentures or eyeglasses to make the products more affordable. 

“The Cherokee Nation Denture Program was designed to help Cherokee citizens get access to new dentures or partials,” Dr. Joshua Looney, CNHS senior director of dental, said. “This program allows us to replace missing or broken teeth for our patients and the partials or dentures give them back their full eating function.”

To access the program:

· Create an exam appointment in CNHS dental. Appointments can be made every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the nearest CN dental clinic location;

· After completing an exam, the dentist will determine the patient’s individual treatment plan; and

· The patient must complete the entire dental treatment plan set by the dentist before a referral is made, if needed.

Looney said if extractions are required as part of the treatment plan then the patient should allow four to six weeks to heal before a denture or partial referral is made to allow proper fitting and reduce complications of dental surgery. 

Dentures or partials are made for patients only once every five years. 

To be eligible for the program, a patient must a CN citizen, must live in the 14-county reservation, provide a proof of address and meet income requirements of 300% of federal poverty guidelines, which is determined by the number of family members in the household. 

CN’s eyeglasses referral program also helps patients to afford eyeglasses if needed.

“The CNHS Eyeglass Program through Purchased & Referred Care (contract health) is designed to provide a source of funding to eligible patients that have received eye examinations by an eye care provider within the Cherokee Nation Health Services to assist the patient with the purchase of eye wear,” CNHS Executive Director Stephen Jones said. 

Guidelines for the program are:

· The program will pay up to $200 for the purchase of eyewear;

· If a patient has vision insurance coverage they must use their insurance or they cannot use the program. The program will continue to pay the material co-pay required by insurance companies;

· Replacement cost of any breakage of eyewear, after the eyewear has been dispensed to the patient, will be the responsibility of the patient for any costs to repair or replace;

· All patients must be examined by an eye care provider within the CNHS group;

· An eligible patient may participate in the program only once within a 24-month period;

· All patients must have a dilated eye exam in order to qualify for consideration in the program for the eyewear, unless deemed unnecessary by the eye care provider; and

· There must be a minimum prescription of -+0.50 diopters, or a change of the same amount if currently wearing eyewear, or major damage/wear and tear to habitual frames or lenses so as to make eyeglasses non-functional. This will be at the doctor’s discretion.

Jones said if the eye care provider determines that new glasses will not improve a patient’s eyesight, the patient is not eligible for the program.

To qualify, a patient must be a CN citizen and must select one clinic location for care. 

For information on these programs, visit www.health.cherokee.org.