Letter sent to patients this week
The MDA has learned that a letter was mailed by the Department of Human Services (DHS) yesterday (March 30) to all patients of State Operated Services (SOS) dental clinics in Fergus Falls, Cambridge and Willmar, informing them of the clinics’ closing on May 1, 2010. The letter told affected patients to contact the MDA for a referral to a dentist in their area. This was not something the MDA was informed of prior to the letter being sent.
Unfortunately, the patients served by these clinics are the most medically compromised and behaviorally challenging to treat and often cannot receive care in just any dental office, as DHS wrongly assumes. However, the MDA’s mission is to be a trusted resource for the public, so we are prepared to assist callers in whatever way we can. In addition, we will work to mobilize them into contacting their legislator about this unfortunate, budget-reducing decision that, in effect, abandons these vulnerable patients.
We will be referring patients to our website and the list of dental clinics that provide services to patients who are on public care programs or that offer services at a reduced cost:
Resources for Low Cost Dental Care. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the clinics on the list will be able to provide the specialized level of care often required when treating this population. If your practice, or other clinics that you are aware of, would be able to assist by treating any of these developmentally disabled adults, please let us know so we can refer patients when they call.
The MDA has been actively working to try to avert DHS’ plans to close these clinics and will continue to do so. The closing of these first three clinics will save DHS $1.4 million and eliminate 23 SOS dental clinic jobs. Two more clinics in Brainerd and Faribault will be closed over the next 15 months, saving a total of $3 million for all five clinics.
The MDA has prepared a summary of our position on this issue which is posted on our website: State Operated Services. We encourage you to review this position paper and contact your legislator about maintaining these clinics for our most vulnerable citizens.
Locate your legislator here or call
(651) 296-2146 or (800) 657-3717.