Free Dental Clinic Fights To Meet Need

By: Chris Woodard Email
By: Chris Woodard Email

POSTED: Thursday, April 14, 2011 --- 9:50 p.m.

An increasing amount of homeless and uninsured people in the Madison area have a group of local dentists taking notice.

Tonight they hope they have an answer.

Two years ago a free dental clinic opened up in the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter. Overwhelmed by the need they went back to the drawing board.

For Danielle Foltman it is the only option. She's has a broken tooth, swollen cheek and no insurance.

She says, "You just panic, I mean really."

Foltman is a student waiting for BadgerCare assistance to come through so she's turning to the Salvation Army Dental Clinic.

She says, "Private health care and dental care is very expensive and I don't have the extra resources to pay for those premiums at this point."

Foltman is better off than some. The majority of the patients seen at the clinic are homeless.

In two years they've seen 340 patients and provided more than $200,000 in dental care, still there is a waiting list.

But tonight they show off their brand new facility and say they just learned they'll be expanding again.

Executive Director of the Madison Dental Initiative Lisa Bell says, "We are seeing an increase in families with young children needing care."

The clinic is inside the homeless shelter, a shelter that struggles to meet the needs of a growing homeless population every day.

Bell says, "We have an overwhelming number of homeless residents here."

Volunteer dentist Benjamin Farrow says, "These people don't even have a home so they don't even have a place to start from looking for a dentist."

And untreated dental problems can lead to serious health risks, especially for children.

With their new equipment and soon to be expanding office they'll be able to serve more patients. a population they say sadly continues to grow.

Bell says, "The population from a number standpoint is enormous."

For more information on the clinic head to www.mdidental.org


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