The Ho-Chunk Nation and Marshfield Clinic are partnering to launch a new dental center in the town of Brockway.
Marshfield Clinic in May announced that a $4.4 million federal grant will be used to develop the 12,600-square-foot facility on the former site of the Rainbow Club near the Nation’s executive office building outside Black River Falls.
Nation executive director of health Alec Thundercloud said the dental center initiative will be part of a larger Nation goal to expand health services to Nation members, employees and also the general public that eventually will culminate in a community health center.
“It was a natural growth and a natural transition for Family Health Center of Marshfield, and Ho-Chunk Nation is looking to expand our services into a community health center,” Thundercloud said. “We’re looking to open our doors further and expand services.
“We thought this would be a great way to expand services.”
The Nation currently is razing the Rainbow Club property on a three-acre portion of its land and hopes to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the center within the next six weeks.
The facility is planned to open by 2013 and be staffed by five dentists, five hygienists and 35 other staff members. The facility will be open to all area residents but also operate with the goal of providing services to underinsured and underserved communities.
“The new facility will provide essential services for families in Jackson and surrounding counties where people — especially children with Medicaid coverage — may not have access to dental care,” said Greg Nycz, director of Family Health Center of Marshfield.
Thundercloud said the dental center is an important addition to local health care services because there is a lack of oral health clinics in the county and area, with a Marshfield Clinic study finding that Jackson County residents were over utilizing dental services in the Neillsville area.
“I think this is a win-win for the county, for the Nation and ... the community at large because you’re increasing access to medical services in a county that has such great health disparities,” he said.
“I think you’re going to improve community health as a whole.”
Thundercloud said the Nation already offers dental services to tribal members and employees but wanted to expand its services to the general community. The initiative will allow the Nation to include dental services in a desired “health campus” that also will include behavioral health and other medical services.
“We’re really going to have a nice health campus between behavioral health, medical and dental training,” he said.
“We’re really going to have a nice health campus that ... hopefully will be able to expand services to tribal members and employees but also to the community at large.”
Marshfield Clinic operates dental centers for Family Health Center in Chippewa Falls, Ladysmith, Marshfield, Medford, Neillsville, Park Falls, Rhinelander and Rice Lake — making the proposed Brockway facility its ninth in the region.