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The state of Massachusetts recently announced that it will be forced to close the Fernald Development Center on June 30 due to budget constraints. Unfortunately, the cost-cutting measure will displace Tufts University's Waltham dental clinic, which provides low-cost dental care services to mentally disabled patients from around the state, according to the Boston Globe.
Although university officials are scrambling to ensure that services can be provided at their other locations, many Massachusetts residents are worried that the 2,100 patients that the clinic serves will soon be without a facility capable of handling their specials needs.
"Where will they go?" asked Marilyn Meagher, director of the advocacy group Fernald League for the Retarded. "These are extremely handicapped people. It is going to be very devastating for them."
The majority of patients currently being treated by the clinic include those with autism, brain injuries and mental retardation.
Jean McGuire, an assistant secretary for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, said that other clinics from around the state should be able to absorb the displaced patients, and that they plan to ensure that a disruption of services does not occur.
Regular visits to the dentist can help prevent avoidable dental health problems, such as infection, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease, according to the American Dental Association.
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