Dental program gives back smilesLooking back at last year puts a smile on those affiliated with Caring Hands Dental Clinic in Alexandria.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
Looking back at last year puts a smile on those affiliated with Caring Hands Dental Clinic in Alexandria.
Al Olsen, director of Caring Hands Dental Clinic, said in a recent interview that the clinic feels fortunate for the past year’s success.
He said that without the outstanding support from individuals and businesses of the area, the success of the clinic couldn’t have happened.
Caring Hands Dental Clinic provides much-needed dental services to residents in the Douglas County area, along with residents in other counties, including Pope, Grant, Stevens, Otter Tail, Todd, Stearns, Swift, Big Stone, Clay, Meeker, Morrison, Renville, Traverse and Hennepin.
The clinic provides access to dental services and oral health education to citizens who are on Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare through the Minnesota Health Care Programs.
A highlight of last year, according to Olsen, is the creation of a first-of-its-kind dental program approved by the state, appropriately called, ‘The More Smiles Program.”
The program, which was created and used exclusively by Caring Hands Dental Clinic, has created substantially more access to dental care, including dental emergencies.
The More Smiles Program allows the clinic to refer emergencies and treatment cases to private offices that would not normally provide services to Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare patients.
“More Smiles has been a huge success for the patients,” said Olsen.
Olsen explained that the concept of Caring Hands Dental Clinic was started in early 2000 by several people, including Robert Mohs, Lowell Anderson, William Heegaard, Sister Patrice Kiefer, Jennifer Kuznia and Tim Gehring.
“These were the initial visionaries of the clinic,” said Olsen. He added that funding for the dental office was found through the Douglas County Hospital Auxiliary.
The DCH Auxiliary paid for dentists to see emergency patients.
Because there was a need for more than just emergency visits, the clinic expanded and almost immediately, there was a waiting list of about 600 people, said Olsen.
In 2006, Caring Hands was expanded and since then, has evolved into a larger entity. It is located in the Marion Building on Cedar Street.
The clinic is staffed with a full-time clinic director, a part-time collaborative hygienist, two part-time hygienists, two part-time dental assistants, a part-time general dentist, and it also contracts with a pediatric dentist.
The above employees, along with a volunteer board of directors and the clinic’s 10 volunteer dentists who last year logged more than 650 volunteer hours, have allowed Caring Hands to expand its services to help those in need.
The clinic gets its revenue, said Olsen, from reimbursements through the Minnesota Health Care Programs. In addition, the 501(c)(3) organization receives grants and donations from various sources.
In 2009, the total revenue for the clinic was $270,497. Revenue came from public support ($36,325), program services ($232,963) and interest and miscellaneous ($1,219).
Total expenses for 2009 amounted to $270,497. Expenses included dental services ($141,292), all payroll expenses ($71,225) and operating reserve ($57,980).
Donations are always accepted, noted Olsen, and can be sent to Caring Hands Dental Clinic, 700 Cedar Street, Suite 44, Alexandria, MN 56308.
For an appointment or for more information about the clinic, contact Olsen at (320) 815-5711 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
“In general, lives have been turned around because of the clinic,” said Olsen. “People have good smiles again and that’s what makes it all worth it.”
A LOOK AT THE STATS
Here are the 2009 statistics for Caring Hands Dental Clinic:
247 children ages 12 and younger were treated in the pediatric program.
72 teens ranging in age from 13 to 18 were treated.
316 adults between the ages of 19 and 55 were seen at the clinic.
82 seniors, ages 56 and older, were patients at the clinic.
In all, there were more than 700 patients seen last year at the clinic and there were 1,413 appointments during 2009.
The More Smiles Program had 128 treatment appointments and 143 dental emergencies.