Mutual of America
  2014 Community Partnership Award
  Honorable Mention Award Recipient
  A Collaborative Approach to Community Dental Care

As Americans, most of us have access to the best oral health care in the world. That is, unless you are one of the millions of lower-income families living in rural communities across the country. For those individuals, many of whom live a hundred miles from the nearest clinic, getting even the most basic dental care can be a challenge.

Northern Dental Access Center opened in 2009 to provide underserved residents in northwestern Minnesota with compassionate, patient-centered dental care. The result of a seven-year grassroots, collaborative effort, the idea for the Center came from public and private sector leaders from around the region who felt passionately that access to oral health care by disadvantaged populations is a public health care issue that needs addressing. Their vision was to create a dental home that eliminates the barriers that often prevent lower-income people from getting the comprehensive oral health care they desperately need.

Today, the Center is staffed with 15 dentists from around the state and a core group of dental assistants, hygienists, dental and health care interns, and patient advocates who serve more than 1,000 underprivileged patients each month. Through a number of community partnerships, patients are also supported with services such as free transportation to and from appointments, insurance counseling, primary care referrals, mental health screening, substance abuse assessments, child and teen exams, and culturally competent patient advocacy.

“The Center is organized to meet the complex needs of underserved patients who tend to put oral health on the back-burner because of financial, insurance, transportation and other issues,” said Jeanne Edevold Larson, Executive Director for Northern Dental Access Center. “Our goal is to make that experience a positive one so that patients feel empowered to take ownership of their health and wellbeing. We remain deeply committed to expanding our reach and to improving the quality of life for thousands of people in this beautiful and pristine part of rural northern Minnesota.”

Northern Dental Access Center
A Collaborative Approach to Community Dental Care
Community Resource Connections
Beltrami County Health and Human Services
Evergreen Youth & Family Services
Bemidji State University
Sanford Health Bemidji
United Way of Bemidji Area