A $10 million grant to Marshfield Clinic from the State of Wisconsin, made in 2010, will be reallocated back to the State.
Marshfield Clinic leadership made this decision Tuesday to redirect funds meant to help construct a rural dental education facility in Marshfield. Instead, the Clinic is focusing efforts on already-successful methods to improve oral health care access and education.
"Since the allocation was granted, Marshfield Clinic has studied at length the best use of these funds," said Dr. Brian Ewert, Marshfield Clinic executive director. "The grant was restrictive, with money to be used for a building in Marshfield. After accomplishing the legislation's intent without using state resources, we saw we could fulfill the Clinic's mission more effectively and more in-line with our expertise and thus reallocate this significant grant.
"While this wasn't the path we saw ourselves going down originally, we are addressing dental care and dental access in ways we couldn't anticipate. We have provided dental care to over 100,000 patients through our initiatives and we will continue to look for innovative ways to expand on that record in the future."
Over the past five years, through partnership with the Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. (FHC):
- six dental centers have been added for a total of nine.
- 24 training operatories were located in communities instead of one building.
- post-baccalaureate dental training programs were developed to attract and prepare students for dental school.
- a dental residency was created for training dentists to be rural practitioners.
- access in rural and underserved areas has increased. As a result, recent studies from area hospitals have shown a decrease in costly emergency room visits for non-traumatic dental care.
To improve dental education in rural Wisconsin, a multipurpose open concept four-chair training area was included in dental facilities in Neillsville, Medford, Rice Lake, Marshfield, Rhinelander and Black River Falls. This summer, the Clinic's first dental residents will begin training at FHC dental centers.
The Clinic, according to Ewert, will work with academic and medical partners on rural dental initiatives, leveraging FHC dental centers as learning sites. The Clinic has about 80 medical education learning partners now, such as universities and technical colleges.
"We appreciate the support Marshfield Clinic has received in providing additional dental access to rural and underserved areas," Ewert said. "We'll continue to focus on the Clinic's core mission, to serve patients through accessible, high quality health care, research and education. That includes providing high-quality dental care through our partnership with FHC and its dental centers."
Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, a nonprofit health insurance company affiliated with Marshfield Clinic, committed a matching $10 million to the project. Those funds will be directed back to Security Health Plan.
The Marshfield Clinic system provides patient care, research and education in more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.