Warning issued after 'unsanitary and unlicensed' dental operation shut down in Somerset

Warning issued after 'unsanitary and unlicensed' dental operation shut down in Somerset

Health officials are warning any Calgarians who may have had dental work done out of a home in Somerset to get tested for viruses.

Alberta Health Services says the "unsanitary and unlicensed" dental clinic operated by Natalia Prohkin out of a home located at 20 Somervale Close S.W. was ordered to close Tuesday.

"To prevent the spread of infection from one person to another, equipment used in dental procedures must be cleaned, disinfected and sterilized according to health standards," said Dr. Judy MacDonald, the AHS medical officer for the Calgary zone. 

Hepatitis B and C, HIV concerns

"This unlicensed, home-based dental operation did not have these proper sterilization or sanitation processes in place, meaning individuals who received dental services through this operation may have been exposed to viruses, including hepatitis B and C and HIV."

MacDonald said Prohkin is not being co-operative with health officials and is refusing to provide a list of people who she treated.

"As a result, we don't have a way to get in touch with people who used her services other than coming out with this public advisory," she said.

"The set up in this individual's basement was complete for dental services and there was evidence of multiple dental equipment sets ... enough to indicate there was likely more services being provided than just for her family members alone, which is what had been indicated."

No advertising found

Health officials have not been able to find advertising for dental service in the home.

"It may have been purely word of mouth, so friends and acquaintances," said MacDonald. 

The initial complaint to AHS was made by someone on behalf of someone else who apparently had dental work done in the home.

"The fact it was at a residence was they key thing that alerted us that this doesn't sound right," said MacDonald. 

Equipment not easy to find

Dr. Randall Croutze, CEO of the Alberta Dental Association and College, says the equipment found inside the home isn't easy to obtain.

"It is possible they got it through [the] grey market," he told CBC Calgary News at 6. "We do know a lot of the stuff was expired. I'm not sure how they got access to some of the equipment."

Croutze said he was "mystified" as to why someone would attempt to run a dental operation out of their home.

"This person does not speak English," he said. Croutze said he's spoken with an investigator who indicated this person may have graduated from a dental school in Russia.

"They are certainly not a registered member of the Alberta Dental Association and College, and they have never made an application for registration in Alberta." 

Call Health Link to arrange testing

Officials also have no way of knowing how long the underground operation had been running. 

The dental operation will remain closed until it is "operated in a manner that meets all legislative and licensing requirements in Alberta," including making sure clients are being treated by a licensed dentist.

AHS says anyone who received dental care at the Somerset home should call Health Link at 811 to arrange for confidential testing.

To confirm a dentist is licensed to practise in Alberta, call the Alberta Dental Association and College at 1-800-843-3848. 

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With files from CBC Calgary News at 6