WHA Foundation’s 2017 Global Vision Award Honors Dental Clinic and Mental Health Resources Program

September 22, 2017

On September 22, the WHA Foundation announced the recipients of the 2017 Global Vision Community Partnership Award, including the “Door County Medical Center Dental Clinic,” nominated by Door County Medical Center (DCMC) in Sturgeon Bay; and the “3D Community Health: Body. Mind. Spirit’s Question. Persuade. Refer: How to Help Someone in Crisis” program, jointly nominated by HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital in Chippewa Falls.

The Door County Medical Center Dental Clinic is a non-profit facility that has been providing free oral health care to youth throughout Door and Kewaunee counties since 1999. The clinic is staffed by general dentists with clinic costs underwritten by DCMC and grant funding. The clinic provides a dental home to a very diverse group of patients from throughout the region and is connected to many local organizations, including the Door County Social Services and Health Department, the Hispanic Resource Center, the local school district, the local Boys and Girls Club, and they treat 90 percent of the children enrolled in Head Start. It is the only dental facility in the area that accepts Medical Assistance, Badger Care or children who have no insurance and no dental home. In 2016, the DCMC Dental Clinic had 3,015 visits, up from 997 visits in 2010. In 2017, they treated 495 people during the month of April alone, nearly one-half of 2010’s total visits. In addition, they have narrowed their waiting list from 300 people in January 2017, to 100 people in June 2017. The dental clinic now sees adult patients twice a month who have emergency dental issues, as well as clients of community programs who have mental health issues.

Based on results from community health assessments over the past few years showing suicide as the top concern of people in the Chippewa Valley, HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals have made mental health awareness their first priority. In collaboration with the Chippewa Health Improvement Partnership, Eau Claire Healthy Communities and others, the hospitals’ 3D Community Health: Body. Mind. Spirit program began an ambitious project in late 2014 to change suicide rates in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties, which at the time were the highest in the state. The “Question. Persuade. Refer: How to Help Someone in Crisis” program was born. In late November 2014, 22 volunteers from health care facilities, places of worship, local school districts and local businesses were trained in QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer. The program is not meant to teach people how to counsel someone in need, but rather to give people the tools to identify someone who’s struggling, to persuade them to get help, and to refer them to appropriate resources. They learned the ins and outs of QPR, using proven, evidence-based suicide prevention training methodologies. They, in turn, took their training to teach QPR to anyone who wanted to learn, free of charge. Within the first year, that small group of trainers held 47 classes, educating 2,399 people in the Chippewa Valley. In the program’s second year, the QPR trainers held 38 classes for adults with 978 participants, and 57 classes for youth with 1,677 participants, an additional 2,655 community members trained to recognize the warning signs of suicide and how to refer friends, family, coworkers to appropriate mental health resources when they need them the most.

The WHA Foundation’s Global Vision Community Partnership Award is a competitive grant award created in 1995 to recognize the efforts of WHA members in meeting the documented health needs in their communities through creativity, innovation, partnership and collaboration. To date, the Award has honored 44 innovative programs in communities throughout Wisconsin.

This story originally appeared in the September 22, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter