Grant to improve access to Northwoods dental, mental health services
The Family Health Center (FHC) of Marshfield, in partnership with Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care, has received a $650,000 federal grant to expand dental and mental health services in the Rhinelander and Eagle River areas.
One part of the Department of Health and Human Services grant provides funds to offset the cost of providing dental care to underserved populations, to financially underprivileged people, people with disabilities and others through the Marshfield Clinic Dental Center in Rhinelander, said Greg Nycz, director of the Family Health Center of Marshfield.
The grant also provides for expanded behavioral health and medical services in the Rhinelander and Eagle River areas, Nycz said. Behavioral health services will be increased both on site and utilizing telehealth capabilities through collaboration with Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care, he said.
While a timetable for the project is still being worked out, this initiative is expected to serve almost 10,000 patients through nearly 30,000 visits.
Much of the grant funds will be used to help patients at the Rhinelander Dental Center, helping to cover up-front costs, while enrolling them in the sliding-fee program.
“This allows patients to pay only what they can afford,” said Terri Kleutsch, dental administrator, Marshfield Clinic. “This will help improve access and allow us to treat more people who need care. We don’t want anyone to be prevented from utilizing dental care because they can’t afford it.”
The rest of the grant funds will be used to make behavioral health services more accessible to Northwoods patients.
“These are challenging times for families in Northern Wisconsin. This collaboration between Ministry Behavioral Health, Marshfield Clinic and the FHC will open a door for the underserved,” said Dr. Gina Koeppl, Northern Region director of Ministry Behavioral Health Service. “We’ll be able to improve access and provide enhanced mental health and substance abuse services for those individuals and families in need.”
Nycz said the collaboration will benefit from the fact that FHC, Marshfield Clinic and Ministry Health Care all share the same electronic medical record.
“We’ll capitalize on the individual strengths of the partnership to improve access and care for the region’s underserved community,” he said. “We’re all working together to improve health care, to make it equitable for all based on a patient’s need and not their ability to pay.”
Family Health Center of Marshfield Inc. is supported, in part, by a grant from the Bureau of Primary Health Care, Health Resources and Services Administration, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.