WORTHINGTON — For the second consecutive month, a mobile children’s dental clinic will travel to southwest Minnesota, offering needed and affordable dental care to young children and pregnant women.

Children’s Dental Services of Minneapolis will see eligible patients Wednesday in Luverne at the Rock County Health and Human Services building and Thursday in Worthington at the West Learning Center. This week's appointments were full, but further opportunities will be available for at least the next few months. CDS handles all appointments at (612) 746-1530. Language assistance is available.

Southern Prairie Community Care Integration Care Coordinator Terri Janssen called dental health “the crutch” of all overall health. The mobile clinic helps provide essential dental care while eliminating or reducing barriers, like transportation or cost-affordability.

“We’re really happy about it,” Janssen said about the clinic’s visit, which is funded by Our Lady of Guadalupe Free Clinic through an early Childhood Oral Health grant from Southwest Initiative Foundation. “It’s just a huge help for the Worthington-area and Nobles County.”

The clinic that sees uninsured and underinsured patients accepts Medicare and Medical Assistance payments, will help uninsured individuals sign up for health insurance if they qualify or accept a sliding scale fee.

The ability to accept those payments is a benefit for people in such programs, as there are few dentistry practices in the area who accept them due to the low reimbursement rate to dental providers. That issue, Janssen said, is heightened in rural areas, because finding providers who accept assistance payments are further away and less convenient to access. Clarkfield and Mankato are the nearest options for similar care without the mobile clinic, Janssen said.

With the understood need, partners from Worthington and Luverne teamed up to bring the clinic to southwest Minnesota. The partnership results in an approximately $6,000 cost savings, Janssen said.

According to Janssen, CDS providers stayed busy at last month’s clinics in Luverne and Worthington. Care that included hygiene and restorative procedures was provided to approximately 20 patients.

Thanks to a grant contribution from SPCC, the dental clinics will continue monthly through early 2020. Janssen expressed gratitude for the space to host clinics and established partners. However, further funding and area partnerships are being sought to secure clinic offerings further into 2020, with the hope of establishing a set schedule and traveling to more schools throughout the county.

Those interested in volunteering or learning how to partner may contact Janssen at (507) 591-2572.