Dental clinics reaching all patients

With his signature Hawaiian shirt, boundless energy, and progressive ideas Dr. Shawn Steele is injecting new vitality into the Dental Clinics at Parkwood Institute and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care.  

Dr. Shawn Steele with the team at Parkwood Institute

Some members of the dental team at Parkwood Institute, clockwise from left: Jody Harrison, Dental Assistant Level II; Cheryl Aspden, Dental Hygienist; Mirella Plommer, Dental Assistant Level II and administrative support; and Dr. Shawn Steele. 

In 2014, when Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building opened, the mental health care dental team merged with the Parkwood Institute dental team to form one team and provide consistent services for all patients. 

While dental services were provided to mental health care patients in the past, the focus was mostly on emergency dental situations. With a keen interest in social justice, Dr. Steele saw an opportunity to provide these patients with a thorough dental evaluation and ongoing care at the Parkwood Institute and Southwest Centre Dental Clinics. “Sometimes people who have a mental illness have a challenge seeking care,” he says. “While they are in hospital it’s an excellent opportunity for them to get the dental care they need. 

Now serving outpatients 

Recognizing a gap in care for outpatients, Dr. Steele further expanded the clinics to serve this population. “Ongoing dental care is so important because it not only provides long-lasting benefits for oral health, but it also impacts overall health,” he says, adding a nice smile boosts self-confidence which, in turn, helps people reintegrate into the community.  

Special Care Dentistry

The Parkwood Institute Dental Clinic specializes in offering Special Care Dentistry. “Because of our patient-centred approach we can take the time to make people feel comfortable who have complex medical, physical, or mental health issues,” says Dr. Steele. 

In addition to hiring two new dentists, Dr. Steele has also revamped the Dental Clinic’s business model, making changes to billing practices and switching to digital radiography (x-rays). “With this new model in place we are seeing more patients and providing more comprehensive care,” he says. Another initiative underway, with the support of the St. Joseph’s Family Medical and Dental Centre, is a pilot project to offer dental hygiene services at the Southwest Centre Dental Clinic.   

Dr. Steele is quick to credit the support of the entire dental team, administration, facilities planning and information technology in implementing the changes to the clinics. “It is gratifying to work in a collaborative environment where everyone has the goal of providing the best possible care.” 

St. Joseph’s also offers dental care at Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care and at the St. Joseph’s Family Medical and Dental Centre. 

Congratulations to Dr. Shawn Steele, Site Chief for dental services at Parkwood Institute and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care, for receiving the Young Alumni of Distinction – Dentistry award from Western University an Alumni Award recognizing global leaders optimizing life-long health.

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