Volunteer Dental Clinic Unveils New Bus to Offer Mobile Care to Underprivileged Residents

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A new traveling dental bus will offer mobile care to underprivileged children and adults in Wisconsin. Staffed by volunteer dentists and college students of Tri-County Community Dental Clinic, it will provide fundamental services at no charge to qualified residents in the Fox Cities who cannot afford dental care.

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The reality of this mobile dental clinic embodies a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘The test of morality of a society is what it does for its children,’ and contributors to this project have certainly brought these words to life.

Thanks to several significant grants and donations, the first-of-its-kind mobile dental clinic has become a reality in Northeast Wisconsin. A fully-stocked bus was recently unveiled to the community along with plans to provide traveling dental care to underprivileged residents in the Fox Cities.

The dental bus will serve as an extension of the services offered through the volunteer-staffed Tri-County Community Dental Clinic (TCCDC) in Appleton and further support the organization’s “Focus on the Children” program. It will be staffed by the volunteer team working for TCCDC that is made up of over 100 dentists as well as dental students from Marquette University School of Dentistry and Fox Valley Technical College.

Robert Glass, executive director of TCCDC, says, “The reality of this mobile dental clinic embodies a quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘The test of morality of a society is what it does for its children,’ and contributors to this project have certainly brought these words to life.”

Glass explains that the bus will begin traveling this summer to designated sites in Winnebago, Outagamie and Calumet counties and then TCCDC will add local schools to its list of destinations in the fall. He notes that the 2010-2011 Fox Cities LIFE Study gave insight into the need for the addition of mobile dental care, especially when it comes to reaching kids.

According to the report, there were over 400 recorded homeless students enrolled in Fox Cities school districts within the 2009-2010 academic year, more than double the number in 2003-2004. The LIFE Study also shows that nearly 40 percent of households in the Fox Cities area experience financial burdens and the challenges of poverty.

As Glass points out, “The need continues to be great and is growing.” He adds, “We have no doubt that without our ‘Focus on the Children’ program and now the new mobile dental care bus, that many of our underprivileged youth in the area would continue to see their oral health decline due to the financial struggles many low income and no-income families face.”

The dental bus will provide children and adults who qualify with dental screenings and fluoride applications along with follow-up hygiene and restoration services as needed.

After years in the making, this mobile dental clinic was made possible through a $300,000 funding contribution from the J. J. Keller Foundation and $250,000 raised by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Several other significant donations came from John E. Kuenzl Foundation, Theda Clark Medical Center Foundation, Mielke Family Foundation, Women’s Fund of Oshkosh, Jane & Tad Shepard Family Foundation, Oshkosh Truck, Bergstrom Automotive and U.S. Venture, Inc.

Founded in 2003, the TCCDC is an all-volunteer dental clinic whose mission is to provide quality oral health care in a caring and compassionate manner. They serve individuals in Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties whose access to dental health care is limited due to inadequate income, or reduced access to Medicaid care. Since its inception, the TCCDC has served 50,000 patients through December of 2011, equating to an estimated $13 million of donated dental care to qualifying individuals. Over this same time period, 483 volunteers, including 140 dentists, gave over 34,382 pro bono service hours to the TCCDC. With the addition of the mobile clinic, the TCCDC expects to be able to complete an additional 3,600 patient visits per year. For more information, visit http://www.tricountydental.org.

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Lori Van Handel
Willems Marketing
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