By Mary Drier
THUMB AREA — A plan by local doctors to meet the dental needs of Thumb area residents is making progress.
Mid Michigan Business Solutions Center (MMBSC) CEO James Rutkowski is working with 48 Thumb area dentists and in conjunction with health departments in Tuscola, Huron, and Sanilac counties, to form a non-profit agency to help the uninsured and those on state dental insurance programs receive care.
During Rutkowski’s update to the Tuscola County Commissioners meeting, he outlined some of the accomplishments that have been done: licensing has been determined, the 501-C3 paperwork to be a non-profit is complete, incorporation is done, a governing board elected, committees formed to work on financing, a facility, developing procedures and practices, and other matters.
Work will continue at another meeting mid-December to further develop the “Thumb Area Dental Clinic.”
“We are in the process of working out transportation to a central location in the Cass City area that our dental group will own, be operated locally and staffed with local dentists,” said Rutkowski, noting a facility close to a dialysis center there is being considered.
“We are looking for grants to help offset the cost of equipment.”
It was noted that besides practicing dentists some retired dentists have expressed an interest in helping at the center when it is operational.
“This could become a model facility for other areas in the state,” he said.
The preliminary plans call for a five- to six-chair dental operation.
The plan for the Thumb Area Dental Clinic center came about after Michigan Community Dental Clinics Inc. (MCDC) pitched their plan for proposed $950,000 center that the three counties would pay for and become financial responsible for the facility for the company to use.
According to Rutkowski, the three counties that would be serviced by the center might be asked for financial help for matching grant money, but they would be paid back once the clinic became profitable.
“The hope is to open within a year… sooner if a suitable existing building can be found,” he said.
The commissioners commended the group’s efforts for their initiative and what they have been able to accomplish so far.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.