Dental Partnership Brings Smiles to the Faces of IM Residents
Any time one non-profit organization can help another fulfill their mission, while simultaneously fulfilling its own goals and objectives, it is positive. Such is the case with the dental partnership Inspiration Ministries entered into with the Open Arms Free Clinic. Opened in November 2012, the Open Arms Free Clinic, located in nearby Elkhorn, Wisconsin, is the first and only free medical and supportive care clinic in Walworth County. The clinic serves low-income and uninsured residents with primary medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab and pharmaceutical assistance. In the last 5 years, over 2,500 patients have been served and during that time, the need for dental services has grown beyond what volunteer dentists can handle.
About two years ago, Clinic leadership came to Inspiration Ministries to explore solving the problem together. They were aware of the dental access issue our residents faced due to lacking the number of local dentists willing to accept Medicaid. They also knew that Inspiration Ministries had a valuable resource – a fully equipped dental clinic on campus – that could be leveraged to meet their patients’ needs and those of our residents. Due to a variety of circumstances the dental clinic, made possible through a generous donation, had not been operational for 3 years. In spring 2017, Open Arms was able to secure federal grants to cover the cost of a dentist and hygienist to work part time at the Open Arms and IM clinics. For the next ten months, they worked diligently to build the program, including working with Inspiration Ministries to formalize a partnership. The relationship would improve access to basic dental care for more disadvantaged people, including Inspiration Ministries’ residents who travel up to one hour to receive care. After much work and coordination, the clinic became operational on February 14, 2018. Inspiration Ministries is proud to partner with the Open Arms Free Clinic and pleased to be a part of aiding in their mission “…to better understand and serve the health and wellness needs of the uninsured, low income, and under-served residents of Walworth Country with compassion and understanding.” Open Arms Executive Director, Sara Nichols, shares the sentiment, “We are always better together and appreciate collaborating with a mission-driven organization like IM to expand the capacity to help our neighbors in need.”
On-site access to dental care almost completely eliminates the need to transport more than 70 residents to other providers. The tremendous gift to our residents is not only the convenience, but the additional time to engage in community life – on campus and around the community. As an organization, the partnership creates efficiencies and cost savings, allowing leadership to re-allocate resources to other areas of need. Thank you, Open Arms Free Clinic, for tackling a challenging community issue and for helping our residents thrive!