West Central Dental Clinic
- Need: The West Central District Health Department discovered unmet dental care needs for low-income residents.
- Intervention: A dental clinic was formed to serve low-income residents in the rural areas of Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson counties in Nebraska.
- Results: The permanent clinic opened in 2006 and has served 24,000 patients as of 2016.
The West Central District Health Department is located in North Platte, Nebraska and has recognized the unmet dental care needs of low-income residents in the rural Lincoln, Logan, and McPherson counties.
In 2006, with support of a Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Health Care Services Outreach grant, the health department worked with community residents and organizations to develop a permanent dental clinic in North Platte serving Medicaid recipients and low-income, self-paying residents.
The clinic also opened a mobile dental unit with a rock and roll theme, called the Tooth Tour which has provided oral health education and/or services to children in two additional counties.
Another off-shoot program was formed called Rock Your Smile – Tooth Tour Tots. Using the services of a public health hygienist, the program goal was to provide dental screenings to WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) patients, targeting mothers with children ages 0-5. The program provided education, fluoride treatments, and free dental supply kits, which included a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, rinse, and sand timers. This program was a partnership with WIC/People’s Family Health Clinic and received grant funding from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Oral Health and Dentistry.
Originally a part-time program, the clinic eventually graduated to a full-time operation. Staff included:
- A dentist
- A dental assistant
- Two public health dental hygienists
- A dental officer
- A dental administrator
The clinic, with a focus on prevention and education, was open to children and adults.
The West Central Dental Clinic accepted Medicaid, private insurance, and uninsured patients that fall within federal poverty guidelines.
- The majority of patients were from North Platte, the clinic's central location, but many traveled from outlying communities from within a 100-mile radius.
- After initial adjustments to the project, the West Central Dental Clinic became sustainable through billing Medicaid and private insurance.
Due to initial financial sustainability issues using a sliding scale to accommodate low-income patients, information from other successful public and private dental practices allowed a transition to a viable fee structure. In 2015, patients with private insurance were accepted. Patients also qualified for discounted services based on the federal poverty guidelines.
- The clinic was initially located in a central part of town, close to the high school to be conveniently located for patients.
- Those wishing to replicate this program should contact other private and community dental clinics regarding any community-specific financial sustainability keys.
Katy D. Pedersen RDH, PHRDH, Dental Administrator
West Central District Health Department
Mobile and episodic healthcare delivery
January 19, 2007
July 27, 2016
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.