Caring Hands Dental Clinic in Alexandria serves individuals on Minnesota Health Care Programs or those who don't qualify for state insurance but do not make enough to afford a private dental office. It received a 2013 Commissioner’s Circle of Excellence Award for its outstanding contributions to human services program clients.
The clinic began serving patients in 2006 as an all-volunteer organization with the initial goal of handling dental emergencies to keep them out of hospital emergency rooms. Due to demand, hygiene and treatment programs were added. In 2012, the clinic hired full-time staff and established an outreach program. It has expanded over the years to now serve patients in 18 central and western counties.
Its unique business model has proven successful in caring for thousands, while not competing with the private sector. Caring Hands not only serves patients in its clinic, staff also provides mobile outreach to local nursing homes and schools and gives oral health presentations in area schools, presentations that have been well received by students, teachers and administrators.
Douglas County Hospital has estimated that Caring Hands Dental Clinic has saved it hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking care of dental emergencies. In 2012, Caring Hands saw 522 dental emergencies.
DHS Commissioner Lucinda Jesson said the clinic was chosen for the award because it represents an innovative program that has made a huge impact on its community and the surrounding area by providing high quality care to people in need.
More information about Caring Hands Dental Clinic is on its website and in a brief video. DHS employees are encouraged to learn more about the clinic and the other 2013 Circle of Excellence Award winners through brief videos produced by the Communications Office that were featured at the awards ceremony and can now be found on the department's YouTube page.