May 16, 2016
Construction has begun for a new Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc. (FHC), dental center in Menomonie, aided by a $1 million federal grant announced last week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
The new dental center, which should open in October, will be a 12,597-square-foot, 20-chair facility which will allow FHC to address local access disparities for low-income and other groups and attain higher local compliance with regular dental checkups.
A formal groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. June 1, 404 Red Cedar St., Menomonie.
"Funding for oral health services such as the Menomonie Dental Center is crucial in helping provide dental services to underserved populations to help eliminate oral health disparities for those who struggle to find dental care," said Greg Nycz, FHC director. "We know poor dental health negatively affects a person's overall heath."
HRSA announced over $260 million in funding to 290 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for facility renovation, expansion or construction. Health centers will use this funding to increase their patient capacity and provide additional comprehensive primary and preventive health services to medically underserved populations.
Filling a need
FHC's Menomonie Dental Center is one of 10 dental centers operated in Wisconsin in partnership with Marshfield Clinic. Others are located in Black River Falls, Chippewa Falls, Ladysmith, Marshfield, Medford, Neillsville, Park Falls, Rhinelander and Rice Lake.
A dental safety net provider in Menomonie informed FHC in 2014 that the state-funded program there would end July 1, 2015, and asked if FHC could provide dental services to 2,000 patients at risk of losing access. FHC established a dental center site in Menomonie in 2015 near the existing dental facility, 3375 Kothlow Ave., Suite 40, with one dentist and one hygienist.
Five dentists and five hygienists will staff the center and provide general dentistry services including preventative, restorative, operative, prosthodontic, endodontics, diagnostic, and emergency care.
"Family Health Center was asked to fill a need in Dunn County and we stepped up," Nycz said. "With help from this grant, we can build a dental center that can help low-income patients in Dunn County and surrounding counties."
Ninety eight percent of FHC's service area population lives in a medical, dental or mental health professional shortage area. Almost all of FHC's patients have incomes at or below twice the federal poverty level including Medicaid/BadgerCare Plus patients; Medicare enrollees who have severe difficulty accessing dental care; and people with limited or no health insurance who have difficulty accessing all forms of care.
There is substantial need to expand local access to oral health services. Wisconsin Medicaid 2013 dental service data shows only 3,123 of 8,978 Dunn County recipients, or 34.7 percent of that recipient group, received a dental service. Only 30 percent of those receiving care did so within Dunn County where most of the care was provided by the state-funded safety net program.
Based on Medicaid access levels, it's conservatively estimated that 3,165 people in Dunn's low-income, non-Medicaid population did not receive dental service in 2013, bringing Dunn County's total to over 9,000 low-income/Medicaid individuals without oral health care.
"The community of Menomonie has been very supportive and excited about this new dental center which will increase access for oral health options in western Wisconsin," said Terri Kleutsch, FHC dental division administrator.
Family Health Center of Marshfield, Inc., (FHC), is a federally- and state-funded community health center dedicated to reducing health disparities, improving access to high quality health care services for the underserved and enhancing community health. FHC helps patients with doctor visits, prescription drugs, dental care and more.
Marshfield Clinic provides patient care, research and education with more than 50 locations in northern, central and western Wisconsin, making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United States.