Did You Know? The Evolution of Dental Care at Walker Methodist

In May of 2006, our Walker Methodist Dental Clinic first opened, that was over 10 years ago! And over the past decade, our dental clinic has grown, evolved, been remodeled, and directly benefited the lives of thousands of individuals. In an effort to celebrate the past and look toward the future, today I'm sharing a snapshot of what's been accomplished with our dental clinic. 

The Need for Dental Health

From the very beginning, the dental clinic was designed to enhance community access to high-quality oral health care for older adults. Through a partnership between Walker Methodist and the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, the clinic we have today was made possible.

With initial funding and a partnership with Minnesota Department of Health Clinic Innovations in Dental Education Grant Program and The University of Minnesota, our dental clinic provides dental care services with state-of-the-art dental equipment, as well as specialized access to mechanical lifts and nursing staff as needed. The dental clinic provides comprehensive general dentistry services, including: 

Caption: Walker Methodist Dental Clinic

  • Exams
  • Preventative care
  • Fillings
  • Root canals
  • Crowns
  • Extractions
  • Dentures

During its time of operation, the Walker Methodist Dental Clinic has provided over 12,000 visits and over $2 million in dental services to over 2,000 older adults. Those served include individuals with chronic diseases, disabilities, and financial limitations that would otherwise compromise their ability to access comprehensive, high-quality dental care. 

The clinic has also served as a Critical Access Dental Program provider for Minnesota's Department of Human Services for Medicaid clients from all plans offered in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. 

Dental Clinic and Health Education

The clinic has provided training for students about geriatric care. The students have included geriatric dental fellows, 4th year dental and dental hygiene students, and students learning other professions like medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, chiropractic, and pastoral care.

The clinic also hosts a nationally recognized, 32-hour intensive continuing education course called "Miniresidency in Home and Long-term Care for the Dental Team" which has now trained almost 300 practicing professionals from across the US and around the world. Collaboration with the University of Minnesota's Center on Aging has also supported inter-professional training activities at Walker Methodist.

The clinic also provided facilities and expertise to develop a comprehensive educational DVD and Workbook to improve oral care in long-term care facilities entitled "Growing Old with a Smile: Oral Health for Older Adults in Long-Term Care." The materials have been nationally recognized and rated as one of the "Best Products for 2011" by the Gordon Christensen Clinicians Report.

Other instructional materials made possible by the clinic's facilities focused on Safe Patient Handling (e.g., wheelchair transfers) for dental professionals. This was accomplished in collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Minnesota Dental Association to address new state regulations requiring implementation of Safe Patient Handling programs for all Minnesota medical and dental clinics. 


Walker Methodist Dental Clinic Recognitions

Only a year after first opening, the Walker Methodist Dental clinic was honored by the state-wide long-term care community with the Minnesota Health and Housing Alliance's 2007 "Innovation of the Year" Award.

During the year 2014-15, our dental clinic received over $450,000 in new grants from the Minnesota Department of Health, Delta Dental Foundation of Minnesota, Stevens Square Foundation, and the Otto Bremer Foundation. The grant money supported a major clinic expansion to double its capacity for teaching and patient care in 2016. 

In October 2016, the Walker Methodist Dental Clinic and Health Center were honored to receive the 2016 Innovation Award from LeadingAge, the national association of more than 6,000 non-profits representing the entire field of aging services. The clinic and Health Center were honored for enhancing access to oral health care for older adults and for fostering geriatric education for university students, and both the St. Paul Pioneer Press and American Dental Association News covered the story.

The dental clinic serves and will continue to serve, Walker Methodist Residents, Patients, and older adults in surrounding communities. The clinic accepts all major dental insurances and state health plans.

We are committed to providing our Residents and the surrounding communities with specialized, quality, comprehensive, and compassionate dental care, and we look forward to continued success in the future!

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Topics: Care and Programs

Dr. Stephen Shuman

Written by Dr. Stephen Shuman

Associate Professor Director of Oral Health Services for Older Adults Program Division of Comprehensive Care Department of Primary Dental Care Director of Graduate Studies MS-Dentistry Program University of Minnesota Graduate School and School of Dentistry

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