Volunteer for Dental
Introduction by Rob Taylor
Speakers: Suzanne Tanis and Jackie Lindrup from Volunteers for Dental
By RIM Reporter Lori Weiler
Jackie Lindrup gave a brief history of Volunteers for Dental. After seeing a program called Dentists’ Partnership program in Calhoun County/Greater Battle Creek Area, they knew there was great need in Muskegon. They started a pilot in Muskegon called Muskegon Volunteers for Dental Care. They garnered support from the Community Foundation and received a $3,000 grant which enabled them to hire a grant writer. That led to additional grants from Alcoa, Delta Dental, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and others.
Suzanne Tanis and Jackie outlined how the program offers basic dental care for adults in exchange for volunteer service. Eligible participants are Muskegon or Oceana County residents, they are uninsured or underinsured, they meet income limits (see your brochure or their website for current information: www.volunteerdental.org).
>>> hour of volunteer time earns $25 in dental care for them.
There is a long list of local dentists participating in the program (be sure and thank your dentist if he/she is one of the volunteers). The Volunteer for Dental office space (where you’ll find Susanne) is donated by Access Health.
This RIM Reporter will attempt to list a few of the many benefits to the community that come from this program:
- Since 2014, 1,288 people have been helped by Volunteer for Dental
- Dental care is not provided in a hospital emergency room and it is not covered by Medicaid
- In 2016, the total visits reported from the Muskegon County emergency department for tooth issues decreased from 2455 to 2103 including the uninsured and Medicaid cases. The dental cost to Mercy Health also decreased from $467,400 to $374,725
- 414 people have received dental care
- 475 have attended oral health classes
- 15,287 volunteer hours logged
- $399,104 dental costs have been donated
- Additional value for the participants includes boosting self-esteem for the responsibility associated with volunteering and helping in their community
- The dentists like the program because participants are screened appointments; they are grateful and polite. Engaging them as a volunteer gets them invested in the program. In fact, only 2% of the Volunteer for Dental participants miss their appointments, compared to the national average of 15%.
Rotarians, what an awesome organization—if you didn’t grab a brochure to give to share with someone who could benefit from this program, be sure and jump on their website for more information www.volunteerdental.org or 766-7129.