FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Park Rapids, MN (October 21, 2019) – Grant awards to assist CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Dental Clinic cover the costs of its new facility.
CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Dental Clinic will start renovations for a new facility that is scheduled to open in the spring of 2020. The new facility will be located across the street from the current clinic on Pleasant Avenue in the building previously occupied by the Park Rapids Eye Clinic. It will allow for additional patient capacity and is projected to provide primary dental services to over 3,000 people on an annual basis. The sole purpose of the Community Dental Clinic has been to provide dental care access for patients enrolled in public care dental programs, low-income families, and other at-risk populations. The clinic has no geographic boundaries and since opening in 2004 has served patients from 58 counties and 217 communities.
There is a significant, unmet need for oral health care for those on public programs and a general shortage of dentists in rural Minnesota. The ratio of patients to dentists in Hubbard County is 4,410:1, while the statewide ratio for Minnesota is 1,440:1. In Hubbard County alone, 27% of the population is enrolled in public programs. The shortage of dental providers for individuals on public programs is directly related to the fact that Medicaid reimbursement is less than what it costs to provide the care. Minnesota ranks 49th out of the 50 states in the nation for reimbursement rates of children needing dental care according to a study done by the Health Policy Institute of the American Dental Association. When adults are added, the ranking is fourth from the bottom. St. Joseph’s has subsidized the operations of the clinic for many years, which has made it financially difficult to expand into a new location. The current Clinic has operated within a small leased space in Park Rapids since it opened in 2004 and often has a waiting list. To address the disparities and gaps in care, community support is needed to expand the clinic for the community and patients throughout the region.
CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Dental Clinic has been awarded grants in the amount of $425,000 from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, $347,393 from Otto Bremer Trust, $260,247 from the Minnesota Department of Health, and $250,000 from PrimeWest Health to help pay for the facility, which will be located at 206 Pleasant Avenue South. CHI St. Joseph’s Health Foundation will continue to fundraise for the remaining project costs through the annual gala, private donations and other grant opportunities.
“We at Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation believe that everyone deserves a healthy smile and we are passionate about improving access to oral health care to people who need it most,” said Joe Lally, Executive Director of the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. “St. Joseph’s plays a critical role in helping people in Park Rapids and surrounding communities, and we are thrilled to support its expansion and growth.”
“Supporting medical services to low-income, special needs, and underserved communities has been a priority of the Otto Bremer Trust,” said Daniel Reardon, co-CEO and trustee, OBT. “St. Joseph’s is responding to a need by constructing a new dental clinic in the greater Park Rapids area, and we are pleased to help support its completion.”
“St. Joseph’s has always seen oral health as a critical component of overall health for patients and it aligns with our mission to improve the health of the communities we serve,” Said, Ben Koppelman, President of CHI St. Joseph’s Health. “We are grateful to our many funding partners who are helping us continue to expand dental services to those who otherwise may not have access to care. Without their support this new clinic would not be possible.”