“We chose DuPage County because of the active volunteer base there and also because it is the site of the most recently shuttered dental clinic in the metro Chicago area,” Ms. Mildred Goldstein, chair of the Chicago Dental Society Foundation (CDSF) Board, says. “Over the last several years, Illinois has seen devastating cuts to dental programs across the state, affecting our most vulnerable citizens. The foundation is committed to improving oral health for all, and this clinic is a first step.”
In June 2011, the DuPage Community Clinic ended its dental care program, citing the opportunity to generate more revenue by converting the space occupied by dental services to a medical clinic.
Similarly, across the region and state, dental services are being cut by lawmakers as they aim to reduce health care costs. This week, Gov. Pat Quinn introduced reforms that could dramatically cut Medicaid access for low-income and uninsured patients, weakening a dental health care system already in peril.
“The clinic served the working poor--those with incomes no greater than 200% of the poverty level and no access to dental insurance--whose meager earnings forced a choice between food and lodging or dental care. With our team of volunteers, we restored patients to good oral health by providing free comprehensive dental care,” Dr. Kevin King, longtime clinic volunteer and CDSF board member, says.
According to clinic records, in 2010, there were approximately 1,500 patient visits. A team of 40 volunteer dentists and 9 dental hygienists provided more than $500,000 in free dental care. With the clinic’s closure, there were no free dental clinics in DuPage County to treat low-income, uninsured patients left.
At its February board meeting, the CDS Foundation voted to open a dental clinic in DuPage County, using equipment rescued from the closed clinic and working with those dentists who had once volunteered at DuPage Community Clinic.
“We are privileged to be able to offer treatment to patients who were displaced by the clinic’s closing.” Ms. Goldstein says. “We still have work to do, but we are looking forward to collaborating with the community to open this clinic as soon as possible.”
Dr. Keith Suchy, a regular volunteer at the DuPage Community Clinic, CDSF board member and former CDS president, says, “The foundation is moving forward to make a meaningful commitment to access to dental care that the whole dental community can be proud of--and we need the support of that whole community to succeed. We need your time, your talents and your financial support to make this clinic work.”
Chicago Dental Society Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Chicago Dental Society, an association for dentists in the metro Chicago area and organizer of the Midwinter Meeting, one of the largest dental tradeshows in the country. Together, the foundation and society have donated more than $5 million over the last 10 years in support of access to dental care and dental education programs.
To find out more about the CDS Foundation or how to get involved with this new clinic, please join the foundation's mailing list.