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Delta Dental awards grant to Rice dental clinic

WILLMAR — Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation has awarded a $120,000 grant to the Rice Health Foundation to add an advanced dental therapist to the staff of Rice Regional Dental Clinic.

The new staff position will expand access to oral health care for an estimated additional 3,000 patient visits annually.

The Rice Regional Dental Clinic provides dental services to children and adults from a 17-county area in southwestern Minnesota who have limited access to care. The clinic sees 35 to 40 patients per day.

The grant will provide critical support for meeting patient needs, said Dr. Linda Jackson, director, in a news release.

"Most of our patients have no dental insurance, receive public assistance, or have difficulty with accessing care in the private sector," she said. "Without this clinic, patients would have to travel further distances in order to receive care, and some will end up in the emergency room with pain and potentially life-threatening infections."

The current demand for care is so strong that there is a two-month wait for a follow-up appointment. By adding an advanced dental therapist to the team, the clinic will be able to shorten the wait time for a return appointment.

Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation focuses on choosing grant recipients that show innovative strategies to expand oral health access for Minnesota's underserved populations; demonstrate significant opportunity to promote and expand preventive and education services; and show ability to measure results.

This most recent grant adds to a total of more than $1.3 million invested in the Rice Regional Dental Clinic by Delta Dental since 2006.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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