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The Open Door Health Center’s Mobile Dental unit made its first appearance in Worthington on May 22. It will be parked in the Shopko parking lot each Thursday to serve local patients. Alex Purdy/Daily Globe

Mobile dental unit comes to Worthington

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WORTHINGTON — Two months after the Open Door Health Center brought its mobile medical unit to Worthington, a mobile dental unit has now found its way here as well.

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The two mobile clinics are in the community every Thursday in their new location at the ShopKo parking lot on North Humiston Avenue.

“We were looking for a place that was accessible to the masses, easy to find and hard to miss,” said Jen Theneman, chief operating officer of the Mankato-based health center. “I’d been researching quite a few areas, and ShopKo was interested in working with us.”

The mobile clinics, previously parked on a county-owned lot downtown, were in their new location for the first time Thursday. The medical unit will be stationed there from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the dental unit on site from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., each Thursday.

The mobile dental unit made its first appearance in Worthington on May 22, and Theneman said it already had an established waiting list for appointments.

“It is really a dental office on wheels,” she said of the new mobile unit visiting Worthington. “We do cleanings, extractions, fillings and dentures. The only thing we don’t do is root canals.”

Technology inside the mobile clinic allows the dentist and dental staff to connect wirelessly to Open Door’s main site, providing digital access to dental records and images.

“We have three dental chairs on board, so we’re able to see quite a few patients,” Theneman added.

On board for each visit to Worthington is a dentist and a dental therapist — both graduates of the University of Minnesota’s dental school — as well as a dental hygienist and two dental assistants. Support staff also make the trip to assist patients.

Dr. Zin, the dentist, has worked for Open Door Health Center for nearly three years.

“When we first started our mobile program, she was our first dentist,” said Theneman. “She works three days a week — in Gaylord, Worthington and Dodge Center.”

The other two days, a different dentist works from the mobile dental unit in Marshall.

“We try to provide well-rounded, integrated care,” she said, adding that the medical and dental units travel together to Worthington to be able to serve patients who may need both services.

“So far it’s going really well — we’re happy with the response,” Theneman said of the mobile clinics coming to Worthington. “We welcome everybody — there are no restrictions for them being able to come.”

Last year, the mobile dental unit served people from age 1 to 99, in a variety of languages and backgrounds.

“We certainly see people that are insured, people that have MA (medical assistance), people on state programs and people that are uninsured as well,” Theneman explained. For the uninsured or people with a high deductible, sliding fee discounts are offered for those who qualify. The mobile clinic accepts cash, check or credit card payment, and will also set up payment plans for patients who require them.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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