The tool, located at www.cdsfound.org/clinics, includes data about dental clinics and services in Cook, Lake and DuPage Counties.
“Our goal with this project is to help patients in need find dental clinics relevant to them,” Dr. Jamie Robinson, dentist and Chicago Dental Society Foundation board member, says. “We’re realistic. The dental care safety net is threadbare, but we can still help people navigate the system and find clinics where they are eligible for treatment.”
Over the past five years, the city of Chicago has closed all its dental clinics. According to a report conducted by the Chicago Dental Society in 2011, there is currently one clinic for every 11,400 Medicaid enrollees in Chicago.
Dental care has not fared better at the county level, either. In 2000, the Cook County Department of Public Health served nearly 12,000 dental patients. In 2007, the county closed half of its dental clinics, resulting in fewer than 5,000 patients being seen in 2009.
The tool is the most comprehensive collection of information on the dental care safety net in the metro Chicago area. Users can search by geography and ages of patients treated, as well as get information on services provided, languages spoken and payment methods accepted for more than 100 clinics and services.
The foundation collaborated with the Chicago Community Oral Health Forum, an advocacy group, to gather and verify data.
“There is an urgent need for this information,” Mr. Rodney Watt, CDS Foundation executive director, says. “With the elimination of dental services under Medicaid this July, there are more patients than ever relying on the dental care safety net.”
The CDS Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Chicago Dental Society, a membership association for dentists in the metro Chicago area. Over the past 10 years, the foundation and its parent society have donated more than $4 million to support access to care and dental education, including funding to more than 50 dental clinics. Find out more about the foundation at www.cdsfound.org.