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Dental Clinic has plans for appointments; no more waits

The LBJ Medical Center is targeting May 1 as the tentative date to implement a scheduling system for the Dental Clinic. Over the past several weeks, local residents have complained that when they visit the LBJ Dental Clinic, they are told that appointments cannot be made and everything is done on a “walk-in” basis.


One resident complained, “The wait itself can take over two hours and I can’t leave my job that long to wait in line to see a dentist.” Samoa News visited the Dental Clinic last week to confirm the claims and sure enough, when asked for an appointment, the receptionist at the window said they do not schedule appointments but instead, people can walk in, pick a number, and wait to be called.


Like everyone else, the Samoa News representative did pick a number. After waiting for more than two hours, she decided to leave. But not before confirming that the dental clinic in fact does not take appointments, and the wait time is just time consuming.


Samoa News sent two separate email inquiries to LBJ Chief Executive Officer Michael Gerstenberger last month. In response to the first Samoa News email, Gerstenberger said that the LBJ Medical Center has a group looking at the scheduling of appointments in all of their clinics. “From clinic to clinic we have a variety of approaches with a variety of levels of satisfaction,” he wrote. “I don’t disagree with your assessment of the Dental Clinic’s process.”


He assured Samoa News that he will find out where the group is and will issue a response the following week.


Yesterday morning, Gerstenberger sent another email correspondence to Samoa News as a follow-up on the suggestion regarding “implementation of an appointment scheme in the Dental Clinic.” 


He wrote, “We have agreed to implement a scheduling system for the Dental Clinic. Our target date is May 1, but this is contingent upon the installation of additional telephone lines, so we won’t advertise the change until those lines are in place.”


Gerstenberger said they anticipate that morning schedule slots will still be reserved for “urgent” cases, including those with broken teeth or dentures, toothaches, crown and/or bridge replacements, etc. 


“The difference will be that you can call in and get a time assigned, so that patients do not have to sit interminably at the LBJ Hospital until called,” he added.


The hospital CEO said the details will be made known as they are worked out.