The Brighton, Michigan campus of Ross Medical Education Center recently held a drive to collect items for the VINA Community Dental Center. According to their website, VINA Community Dental Center was established in 2008. They seek to offer basic dental care to low-income, uninsured individuals in Livingston County. This is an underserved group that typically has little access to dental care. VINA stands for Vision, Integrity, Need, Action, serves over 2,000 people in their community. They strive to provide the best practices of dentistry, and patients at VINA are able to keep receiving dental care as long as they continue to financially qualify.
Many of the patients that VINA serves have not seen a dentist in decades. Some have had numerous infections and have had to deal with tooth pain because they cannot afford care. Due to the time it’s been since patients have received care, many require extractions or suffer from many cavities. However, they all share a common goal: “to eliminate pain and infection, to keep as many of their natural teeth as possible and to maintain their dignity.”
Currently, VINA is able to accept 15-20 new patients per month. Volunteer dental professionals provide almost 50% of the 150-200 dental appointments offered to patients each month. In addition to volunteers, VINA also employs some part-time dentists and dental assistants. In order to cover some of the costs, VINA patients pay $25 per appointment. When necessary, VINA refers patients to dental specialists in the community. These specialists partner with VINA to provide treatment to VINA patients at no additional charge.
The operations and resources at VINA are made possible by generous community contributions, fundraising events, and limited local grants. The combination of these channels covers about 85% of the expenses associated with operating the clinic. They always welcome area businesses to donate goods and services to be used as auction items, in the raffle, or given as door prizes during events.
“Many Brighton Ross graduates donate their time and talents to the Center,” shared Deb Carey, Lead Dental Assistant Program Instructor at Ross in Brighton. While the clinic has many dental supplies donated, the Ross students and staff provided them with other items, such as toilet paper, paper towels, and garbage bags. All these items are important to running the clinic.