Northern Division: Serving every county in Minnesota and North Dakota
Commissioner Emily Piper

Top human services leader lauds Army dental clinic

Added on Thursday, March 30, 2017

Minnesota Department of Human Services commissioner Emily Piper (pictured above) stopped by The Salvation Army Good Samaritan Dental Clinic in Rochester, Minn. on March 27 to learn more about how the program is filling an important gap in the community.

Now in its 15th year, the clinic provides free or low-cost emergency dental services for hundreds of people who are uninsured or underinsured. Two of the most common services are tooth extractions and x-rays.

Pam Lawrence“We are like a dental emergency room – we get people out of pain,” said clinic director Pam Lawrance (pictured), adding that the program is staffed by about 50 volunteer dentists.

Piper is Minnesota’s highest-ranking public health official, overseeing a $16.2 billion department that serves more than 1 million people. She wants to increase Minnesotans’ access to dental services by breaking down these and other barriers:

  • Too many publicly-funded health care program enrollees have limited or no access to dental care.
  • In 2015, just 37 percent of Minnesota children enrolled in Medical Assistance received dental services. This rate is below the national average of 45 percent.
  • Few dental professionals serve enrollees of publicly-funded health programs due to these programs’ low reimbursement rates and administrative complexity.

On the day of Piper’s visit, a young man named Adam Clay (pictured below) came to the dental clinic in need of a tooth extraction. He had been enduring months of pain caused by broken molars.

Good Samaritan dental clinic“I have a high pain tolerance, but this pain keeps you up at night,” he said.

Clay is a prime example of a person who cannot afford the emergency dental care he so desperately needs. But thanks to The Salvation Army’s dental clinic, Clay’s tooth pain is a thing of the past.

Piper left the clinic impressed.

“One thing I admire about The Salvation Army is that they’re coming into voids,” she said of the dental clinic and its volunteers. “You see a void, and you fill it.”

Video

See the Good Samaritan Dental Clinic in action in this informative video:

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