Earlier this Summer, Infinity Health’s Dental Clinic relocated for business on Osceola’s historic square. Originally located in the Infinity Health building at 219 Washington Street, the dental clinic team quickly realized the need for care for south-central Iowa’s under- and uninsured community was higher than expected. After receiving a $49,999 grant from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and a $50,000 Pillars grant from the Clarke County Development Corporation (CCDC), the dental facility was completed with $157,000-plus in renovation and additional costs to move the dental services to a larger space on the square.
When the Infinity Health’s Dental Clinic in Osceola originally opened, the team established their services using just a couple rooms within the Infinity Health facility. With the great need for oral health care, the volume of patients quickly created a need to expand into a larger facility.
“We had patients driving an hour and a half to two hours just to get the dental care they need,” said Pat Elmer, Infinity Health Dental Director. “On top of that, we were seeing patients booking appointments more than a month out. We just didn’t have the space.”
Along with grant support from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and Infinity Health’s operational funding, the $50K CCDC Pillars grant helped finalize the funding necessary to make the move to the bigger space on the square possible. Their new space, at 131 Washington Street – just a few blocks East of their original spot with Infinity Health – more than doubled the rooms available for patient care.
According to the research done by Ms. Elmer when applying for the funding grants, in just the south-central region including Clarke County and surrounding counties, there are thousands of people eligible for State dental insurance. While that doesn’t mean all are uninsured, it does show the excess of under-insured citizens within the area and indicates many likely don’t have dental coverage at all.
While some plans like Medicare or Medicaid, and some employer programs offer dental coverage, the extra fees make it cost-prohibitive for lower-income households or those on a fixed budget. According to Elmer, this lack of proper dental insurance leaves many, including children and seniors, without access proper dental care, which in turn can be detrimental to their overall health and well-being.
“When we saw the statistics that Pat and the Infinity Health team put into the grant application, we knew the importance of supporting them with this venture,” said Bill Trickey, CCDC Executive Director. “We saw this as an incredible opportunity to expand dental-care access and equity across our community – even to neighboring counties.”
Since their move to the location on the square, the dental team has been inundated with patients looking for full dental care and support as well as same-day emergency appointments. They’ve already increased their operation availability from two days a week to four and have added a dentist and a hygienist to help with the influx of new and returning patients.
“The focus for us, really, is the ability to provide services for those who may have become frustrated or even given up on standard approaches to dental care,” said Andi Masters, Infinity Health’s Chief Operations Offer. “With our ability to take most insurances as well as an implemented sliding-fee scale, patients now have another, affordable option for their dental care.”
Infinity Health’s Dental Clinic in Osceola is open Monday through Thursday from 8AM to 5PM. Infinity Health’s dental team also provides oral health services at their Leon and Mt. Ayr locations. With more families making appointments for their children starting school, the phones have been ringing regularly, but they say they’re ready and able to help anyone who needs dental care.
“It’s so much more than white teeth and pretty smiles,” said Masters. “Oral health is linked to a patient’s general, overall health. We want the entire community to see the benefits.”