Small Smiles to shut down NY office

Small Smiles, the dental chain facing lawsuits over alleged mistreatment of young patients, will close its Syracuse, NY, office.

Church Street Health Management, the company that operates Small Smiles, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month but claims the clinic closure has nothing to do with the bankruptcy, according to a story by WSYR-TV.

Two separate lawsuits were filed against the company in 2011 in New York State Supreme Court for Onondaga, Monroe, and Schenectady counties on behalf of 10 families in each county. The suits seek damages for alleged "unnecessary, inappropriate, unsafe, and excessive dental procedures" performed on young children at various Small Smiles clinics in those counties between 2005 and 2009. Battery, false advertising, malpractice, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty are also alleged.

Court documents allege that children were strapped to chairs for unnecessary root canals, fillings, and crowns, according to WSYR-TV.

Church Street Health Management (formerly Forba Holdings), previously paid $24 million to settle allegations of Medicaid fraud in 22 states brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. A total of $3.45 million of that went to New York, where the company operates several clinics.

New York health officials say Small Smiles has to give patients a 30-day notice of the Syracuse clinic closing and provide a list of other dentists who will accept Medicaid.

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