Rural communities face significant barriers to health care access. Medical provider shortages, changing demographics, access to services and affordability of medications and equipment impact young and old alike. Our grants support rural organizations with deep roots in the communities they serve. We are proud of the trust they have developed with their clients, resourcefulness in maximizing impact, and tireless effort to support their local communities.
ROOTS OF STRENGTH
A Future to Smile About Oral health affects our ability to speak, smile, eat, and show emotions. Children with poor oral health miss more school and receive lower grades. Access to affordable preventive and restorative dental care is critical to ensure all children have a healthy start and a bright future.
Caring for the Neediest There are 3,500 residents of greater Steele County in southeast Minnesota without health insurance and with few health care options. More than half are diabetic, a quarter have hypertension and a third have high cholesterol. Doctors and other medical professionals at the Free Clinic of Steele County provide acute, non-life threatening health services to community members at no cost. They used grant funding to help purchase medication, medical and dental supplies for patients living at or below the poverty line. Many were afraid to seek health care because of their immigration status. An elderly woman, Rosa*, thought she was dying but didn’t seek care because she feared she would be separated from her family. A concerned neighbor informed the Free Clinic’s director, who stood outside Rosa’s door in freezing temperatures for over an hour to prove he was there to help. Finally, Rosa agreed to go to the clinic, where routine tests revealed she had a minor medical problem. The clinic helped her purchase the prescription she needed to get well and she now greets clinic staff with a hug. More than 250 patients were seen during the grant period, 70 percent of whom were Spanish speaking.
Extending a Safety Net Sometimes barriers to care are so overwhelming that people don’t know where to turn. Northern Dental Access Center is a nonprofit community dental clinic serving some of the poorest families in Bemidji and the surrounding parts of Beltrami County in northwest Minnesota. For patients with few resources and no safety net, the clinic provides a range of dental services, including oral health education, screenings, preventive care and comprehensive emergency dental care, as well as transportation. Insurance counseling helps clients access state health programs and veteran’s services. Northern Dental Access Center received a grant and provided direct care for 11,000 patients during a year when the clinic saw twice as many underinsured and uninsured patients as the previous year. They were also able to increase access for young patients who needed orthodontic treatment, bringing a much-needed service in- house. Reaching into the community, the center
hosted its first health fair, educating pregnant women and new mothers on the importance of dental care for themselves and their children. Responding with Respect Sarah* called Northern Dental Access Center worried because her daughter had been suffering from dental pain. They had no dental insurance and couldn’t afford treatment. She was invited to bring her daughter in right away to address the pain and infection. Sarah was emotionally overcome by this offer, relieved her child could see a dentist. Anna* needed extensive treatment, and through a partnership with a pediatric dental clinic, received treatment for her complex dental issues. The center’s insurance counseling service helped Sarah and Anna receive coverage and they now have a dental home.
*Names changed for privacy.
*Name changed for privacy.
70% of grants made in 2017 served rural communities.
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