Free Dental Clinic Assists Hundreds of Patients, Smiles
Located in Sturgeon Bay, the Ministry Door County Medical Center (MDCMC) Dental Clinic is a non-profit facility that has been providing free oral health care to the youth of Door and Kewaunee Counties since 1999. The only free dental facility in the area, the clinic is staffed by two general dentists and one volunteer dentist with clinic costs underwritten by MDCMC and grant funding. In total, more than 800 individuals in need were served by the MDCMC Dental Clinic in the past year.
The clinic provides a dental home to a very diverse group of young patients between the ages of 2 and 18 from throughout the region and is connected to many local organizations. The facility receives referrals from the Hispanic Resource Center, Door County Department of Social Services and the Door County Health Department. Although less than 2% of the people residing in Door and Kewanee Counties are Hispanic, nearly 20% of all clinic visits come from the area’s Hispanic population, many of whom speak little or no English. The clinic uses an interpreter from the Hispanic Resource Center or an ESL teacher to assist when there is a language barrier.
Ministry Door County Medical Center also assists adults in the community who need emergency dental care through resources made available from employees and other donors to its Ministry Fund. Patricia Blish and Tanya Henke, both of Sturgeon Bay, received assistance this year from the fund for emergency dental care.
Patricia tolerated mouth pain for nearly a year; until the pain started shooting straight into her ear. “I was constantly taking ibuprofen to offset the pain. It was excruciating,” she said. Patricia endured the discomfort for so long because she didn’t have the finances to cover a visit to the dentist. It was then that a friend recommended that she contact Katie Graf, MDCMC social services.
Katie assisted Patricia and told her about the free or discounted dental care available to those in need. Patricia learned that her cracked molar needed to be pulled. “They were very nice and gentle, and they explained the entire procedure so I wasn’t nervous about it.”
Patricia remains grateful for the help and support from Ministry Door County Medical Center. “It was 100% awesome. I was free of pain immediately – I just can’t thank them enough.”
When Tanya learned she needed to have a few teeth pulled she was nervous, and not only because she couldn’t afford a trip to the dentist. “I was scared and worried that my front teeth would be missing,” she said. Katie Graf also assisted her with receiving emergency dental care.
After Tanya’s front teeth were successfully removed, she received a partial denture. “It was a great experience. They were all really nice and I am beyond grateful for the help I received.”
The Ministry Fund has been able to fulfill over 1,900 requests for assistance, and over $200,000 has been gifted since the fund was created in 1999. In 2011 alone, the fund gifted $16,000 for uninsured adults needing emergency dental care.