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Caring Hands Dental Clinic honored for excellence

Contributed Caring Hands Dental Clinic, a nonprofit dental clinic in Alexandria, was honored with a 2013 Circle of Excellence Award by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) on Monday, December 16 in St. Paul. Those in attendance were (left to right) DHS commissioner Lucinda Jesson; Al Olsen, executive director; and Mary Lou Olsen, founding partner and consultant. (Contributed)

Minnesota Department of Human Services (MDH) commissioner Lucinda Jesson recently honored eight organizations from across the state, including Caring Hands Dental Clinic in Alexandria, for their outstanding contributions to human services program clients.

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Recipients of the 2013 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards were recognized at a ceremony at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building in St. Paul.

Jesson said winners in the third annual Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Awards stand out among many organizations providing critical human services programs and promoting healthy and productive communities in Minnesota.

“Our vision at the Department of Human Services is healthy people, stable families and strong communities, but we know that we won’t get there alone,” said Jesson.

Caring Hands Dental Clinic, a nonprofit dental clinic, provides dental services to individuals on Minnesota Health Care Programs or those who don’t qualify for state insurance but do not make enough to afford a private dental office

It started in 2006 as an all-volunteer organization with the initial goal of handling dental emergencies to keep them out of hospital emergency rooms. Due to demand, hygiene and treatment programs were soon added.

In 2012, the clinic hired full-time staff and established an outreach program. Its business model has proven successful in caring for thousands, while not competing with the private sector.