By Anne Polta, West Central Tribune, October 24, WILLMAR — A $100,000 grant from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation grant to the Rice Health Foundation will enable the addition of a part-time dentist and support staff to the Rice Regional Dental Clinic, expanding regional access to oral health.
The dental clinic provides access to care for a 17-county area and also serves as a clinical training site for students from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. With the new grant, Rice Regional Dental Clinic will be able to continue its dental services for a population that has limited access to dental care due to handicap, accessibility or financial barriers.
The clinic currently serves 35 to 40 patients per day. By adding a part-time dentist and support staff to the team, wait times can be shortened for new patients and return appointments, as well as continue a pediatric dental clinic on Fridays.
The dental clinic is in its 11th year and the need and demand for care remains strong, according to Dr. Linda Jackson, director of the Rice Regional Dental Clinic.
“By adding a part-time dentist and support staff to the dental team, we will increase our ability to meet the needs of the patients we serve,” she said. “Most of our patients have no dental insurance, receive public assistance, or have difficulty with accessing care in the private sector.”
Without the clinic, “patients would have to travel further distances in order to receive care, and some will end up in the emergency room with pain and potentially life-threatening infections,” she said.
Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation focuses on grant opportunities that show innovative strategies to expand oral health access for Minnesota’s underserved populations; demonstrate significant opportunity to promote and expand preventive and education services; and show ability to measure results. The goal is to help build a sustainable base of dental providers and services in west central and southwestern Minnesota.
Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation has given a total of $1.13 million toward the Rice Regional Dental Clinic through the University of Minnesota and directly to the Rice Health Foundation. In addition, Delta Dental of Minnesota/Community Benefits has given $471,000 for a total of $1.6 million since 2006.