Minneapolis Veterans Home opens nation's first fixed dental clinic
Officials and Veterans Gather for Historic Floss Cutting Ceremony
New clinic created through public-private partnership; expected to provide dental services to 500 Minnesota Veterans each year
ST PAUL, Minn. – The State of Minnesota and the Minneapolis Veterans Home made history today by opening the nation’s first of its kind fixed dental clinic on a State Veterans Home campus.
Funding for the new dental clinic was made possible through a unique public-private partnership with The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDAV), Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, Minnesota Veterans 4 Veterans Trust Fund (V4V) and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Minnesota Chapter. Supporters from all four organizations joined officials at a “floss cutting ceremony” in the new clinic on the Minneapolis campus. Residents and staff from the Minneapolis Home, as well as members and supporters of the Veterans community, also celebrated at the opening.
“This new dental clinic would not have been possible without collaborative support from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, the Minnesota Veterans 4 Veterans Trust Fund, and the Disabled American Veterans,” said MDVA Commissioner Larry Shellito. “When it comes to serving Minnesota Veterans, I am continually inspired by the dedication of our team, and by the commitment from our partners and our community. When we work together, all Veterans win.”
The new clinic opened today makes it easier and more efficient to provide dental care to the 300 Residents of the Minneapolis Veterans home, as well as participants in the campuses Adult Day Center program. Previously, the Minnesota Veterans Home, like other skilled care model facilities across the country, relied on mobile clinic dentistry programs to provide dental care for Veterans. Challenges with these mobile clinics included a limited ability to provide dental procedures, increased cost and time for setup and teardown, lack of adequate space to receive patients, inconsistent durability of equipment, and poor conditions for infection control.
The new, innovative dental clinic at the Minneapolis Veterans Home addresses those challenges, and goes one step further in creating an interdisciplinary team approach to oral health care while serving Veterans Homes Residents in a familiar dental environment with staff support. The interdisciplinary team includes a newly hired community dentist. The clinic also features specialized equipment that better serves those with cognitive impairments and physical disabilities, and a dental staff with expertise in dementia care and challenging behaviors.
“This is a monumental day for veterans in our community, and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” said Joe Lally, executive director of the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. “We believe that everyone deserves a healthy smile, and are grateful for the innovative thinking, hard work, and collaborative spirit demonstrated by the Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs to make this first-of-its-kind clinic a reality.”
MDVA received three major grants for this project, including $100,000 from the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, $60,000 from V4V, and $50,000 from the DAV Minnesota Chapter. Funds were used for construction renovation, equipment and supplies.
This fixed dental clinic model is unique due to a direct partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A small portion of Veterans are eligible for dental benefits through the VA Health Care System due to strict eligibility criteria. Veterans must be 100% service connected disabled through the Department of Veterans Affairs, or have a documented dental injury from their time in service. Because of the significant private pay cost, most Veterans who reside at the Minneapolis Veterans Home rely on other benefits or privately pay for dental services.
In addition to Residents at the Minneapolis Veterans Home, the new dental clinic is expected to serve up to 100 Veterans at the nearby Hastings State Veterans Home. MDVA is considering similar projects for the Veterans Homes in Silver Bay, Fergus Falls and Luverne.
The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is a cabinet level state agency dedicated to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. In addition to overseeing the five State Veterans Homes, MDVA helps eligible Veterans and families secure state and federal benefits and provides programs and services relating to higher education, benefits, burial, claims, outreach and Veterans employment. Veterans and their families are encouraged to visit www.MinnesotaVeteran.org or call 1-(888)-LinkVet for more information about benefits.
About Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation
In 2009, Delta Dental of Minnesota’s parent sold a company and used 100 percent of the proceeds to establish and fund Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation supports Delta Dental of Minnesota’s mission of improving the health of Minnesotans through oral health. Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation works to expand access to dental care for Minnesota’s underserved populations across the state by primarily investing in programs and organizations that provide dental care to people in need.