The team should carefully choose a location from which the project will be delivered. This site must be a place that is familiar to the population and provides a comfortable atmosphere for those that will be served. This is an important issue that can be discussed with by the Advisory Council. Members of the Council may suggest strategic locations that may increase access.
The physical parameters of a facility also need to be considered when choosing a location. Adequate space, lighting, ventilation-heating and cooling, utilities and access to transportation/parking is primary on the list of mandatory requirements. Table 2 provides a list of questions that should be determined when securing a location.
Adequate space for delivery of care and storage of equipment/supplies is often a challenge. For example, approximately 80-100 square feet would be the minimal space necessary for a portable operatory in a school. In a school setting, the library; a portion of the cafeteria; or minimally used classrooms are chosen for sites to set up a portable operatory. Keep in mind privacy must be maintained for the patient and provider. This may often require the use of room partitions. Request storage for supplies and equipment near the area which will be used for services. Set-up of an operatory becomes difficult when one must carry equipment and supplies up and down stairs for storage. This is not a problem if a project is operated only a few times, but for a sustained project, the movement of equipment and supplies from a remote storage area can hamper retention of dental personnel and potentially hinder project success.
Experts in the delivery of community-based oral health care in skilled nursing facilities recommend a minimum of 12x12 feet (144 square feet).32 Many long-term care facilities offer a beauty shop for residents and this may be an ideal location. The beauty shop usually has excellent lighting, seating space and sinks. Using a wheelchair lift in place of a portable dental chair may require more space for the operatory. Also, multiple care-givers may be needed to deliver care.32 This also will dictate greater space requirements.
A portable operatory is not always necessary. It may be that funders and the project directors would like to establish a permanent operatory in the target location. This is ideal. However, remember, the same issues apply. These issues include adequate square footage, ventilation, lighting, utilities, storage and privacy.