New dental clinic for low-income residents to open in Walworth
WALWORTH — Before a new dental clinic for low-income people even opens its doorS, there is talk about expanding its hours, space and staff because of a high demand for its services.
The Walworth Inspired Community Healthcare dental clinic, N2270 Highway 67, Walworth, is scheduled to open Monday, Dec. 16, and operate two days a week. It has about 75 appointments for its team of two dentists and a hygienist.
“It won't be long before we'll be expanding beyond the two days.” said Richard Perry, chief executive officer for Community Health Services of Beloit. “With the number of patients who already made appointments, we will be six months out, easy, and we're there to help increase access, not delay it. We're off to a pretty good start.”
The dental clinic is a product of research and collaborative planning between the Walworth County Department of Health and Human Services, Walworth's Inspiration Ministries and Community Health Systems of Beloit.
“It was the perfect storm,” said Janis Ellefsen, health officer and manager at human services. “Everybody came together at the right time, and it worked for all of us … We're committed to this.”
Health Services created a goal of opening a clinic at Inspiration Ministries between 2012 and 2014 after focus groups for the county's Community Health Improvement Plan showed residents are concerned about the availability of affordable oral healthcare.
Many people in the area don't have dental insurance. Some are covered by Medicaid, which many dentists in the area don't take or accept only on a limited basis, said Robin Knoll, Inspiration Ministries pastor.
“The goal is to just serve as many underprivileged as we can as quickly as possible, realistically as possible,” Knoll said.
The clinic will provide cleanings, fillings, extractions and other dental services for patients who are on Medicaid, Badger Care Standard Plan and other insurance plans.
The clinic will not provide orthodontics.
Knoll suspects the majority of the appointments will be for typical dental check-ups.
The clinic will offer a sliding fee schedule for patients who do not have insurance.
For example, people with income at 100 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for the sliding fee schedule and would be charged $40 for each visit but no additional expenses, Perry said.
About four years ago, Knoll noticed a need for affordable oral healthcare among people with disabilities and on Medicaid. The ministry had a local dentist volunteer half a day once a month, but Knoll knew it wasn't enough. Health Services and Community Health Systems of Beloit contacted Knoll about the potential of a dental clinic at Inspiration Ministries.
“I said, 'Boy that's kind of an answer to our prayer. Let's talk about it',” Knoll said. “And for the last year we have been working on this partnership and looking at how we can open the clinic and serve those in need.”
Inspiration Ministries, a Christian-based residential community and care provider for people with disabilities, is providing the space for the clinic.
One of its two-bedroom apartments has been converted into the clinic. The living room is now the waiting room, and each bedroom is an operatory.
Community Health Systems of Beloit is staffing the clinic with dentists and dental hygienists and managing the appointment schedule