Dental Program Expansion – Launching Support

Lake Geneva Regional News – 5.9.2019

By Scott Williams swilliams@lakegenevanews.net

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ELKHORN — Open Arms Free Clinic has announced plans to open a dentist clinic that would allow the nonprofit health care provider to extend dental care to thousands of more people in Walworth County.

Expected to open by early next year, the new clinic in Elkhorn will provide free dental care to qualified adults and children who either have no insurance or are under-insured.

Open Arms has struck a deal with an existing dental clinic — located next door to Open Arms — to purchase the property and convert it into a new nonprofit dental care center capable of serving six patients at a time.

Sara Nichols, executive director of Open Arms, said the opening of a full-size dentist clinic represents the culmination of years of planning within her organization and its supporters.

“It’s humongous,” she said. “It’s a major pillar in the foundation of our entire organization.”

Open Arms, which was established in 2012, operates a full-service clinic at 205 E. Commerce Court, where low-income and uninsured Walworth County residents can receive free medical care.

Dental care is provided, but strictly on a part-time basis that cannot reach everyone in need, which includes more than 7,000 children who never see a dentist because they lack proper insurance.

Bob Dillman, one of the dentists who volunteer at Open Arms, said he participated a few years ago in a traveling free clinic that stopped in Lake Geneva. The temporary charitable effort in two days attracted 2,000 patients seeking help with their dental needs — signalling a significant need.

Dillman said he looks forward to seeing low-income and uninsured people become regular new patients at the Open Arms clinic.

“It will be an awesome opportunity to provide a dental home for people,” he said.

Open Arms separately has struck a deal with the dental school at Marquette University in Milwaukee to use the new Elkhorn clinic as a site for dental students to complete the internship requirements of their training.

Open Arms is hosting its annual golf tournament June 4 to raise funds, with a special appeal going out to donors for help defraying the costs of the new dentist clinic. Nichols said she anticipates needing $475,000 to acquire the clinic property, plus another $300,000 to purchase equipment and $500,000 a year to operate the new center.

Now known as Family Dental Arts, the existing clinic at 209 E. Commerce Court announced last year that it was planning to relocate to new facilities to be built on an adjoining site. The estimated 3,000-square-foot building being vacated was built about 25 years ago.

Chad Greving, owner of Family Dental Arts, said he was happy to work with Open Arms after Nichols and her colleagues inquired about the availability of the soon-to-be-vacant property.

Open Arms has always been a good next-door neighbor, Greving said, and officials there seem to have a solid plan for creating a new training ground for Marquette University students while reaching an under-served population of low-income and uninsured dental patients.

“That’s a win-win,” he said. “It could really turn out great.”

Family Dental Arts hopes to move out of its existing clinic by the end of 2019.

Nichols said she was surprised by the lucky coincidence of Open Arms moving into its current headquarters in 2015, and now finding a dental clinic property available right next door just a few years later.

“When it’s the right time, the right things happen,” she said.

Open Arms recorded 5,700 patient visits last year for medical, vision, counseling, laboratory and other needs. The facility operates with a staff of 10 workers, plus a large group of volunteers, and a network of financial supporters.

Dental care generally is provided twice a week either in Elkhorn or another site in Williams Bay, although the number of patients served could be greater with the right facilities.

The new nonprofit dental center will be geared toward a Walworth County population of about 30,000 people who live in poverty — roughly one-third of the county. That includes about 13,000 adults and children who live on Medicaid, and another 8,000 who have no insurance at all.

Most dentists will not accept Medicaid patients, because the government reimbursement rate is so low.

Jackie Spielman, a Delavan resident who found herself struggling after her husband died four years ago, said she could not afford health insurance and she could not find doctors or dentists to help her. When she discovered Open Arms, she said, she found compassionate care that instilled her with new hope.

“It changed me completely,” she said. “It truly feels like a family.”

Volunteer Appreciation Week 2019

April 8, 2019 – Open Arms Free Clinic Volunteer Appreciation Event, Abbey Springs, Fontana, WI.

Is it really Spring already? It feels like we had the perfect time celebrating our amazing volunteers. Delicious food, a gorgeous day, I couldn’t have ordered a more perfect evening!

As I was walking around the party taking pictures, it became clear that the clinic has become a place for diverse people to come together to take care of their community, and in doing so, each other. The impact on the patients and community cannot be overstated. Sara Nichols did an excellent job of acknowledging the thousands of hours donated, and I can only add my voice to chorus of thank-yous that fall short of showing their true appreciation for what you do. I also was struck, though, by how much the you were caring for one another. Talking, laughing, sharing stories, it was all building each other up. You care for the people around you in any way they need, whether it’s a kind word in the exam room or a funny pose at the photo booth.

Personally, I have felt so welcomed by the people I have met. We have shared stories in the kitchen, recipes at the nurses station, and heartache in the back where no one can see. Thank you for being friends, teachers, and confidants.

I hope that whether you were at the dinner or not, you know that you are appreciated. You are a Lifesaver!

Sincerely,

Kate Smith

Community Relations Coordinator

Recruit your family and friends at our Ways to Help page so they can become a Lifesaver too!

 

Advocacy Day 2019

Wisconsin Free & Charitable Clinics Advocacy Day (April 4, 2019)

~ Impressions by Kate Smith, OAFC Community Relations Coordinator

With a lot of talk about the federal government, it can be easy to forget the real impact our state government can have. There are a lot of important bills and amendments at stake right here in Wisconsin that are so much more important than the latest tweets. I perhaps did not realize how important state legislation was until I participated in the Wisconsin Association of Free & Charitable Clinics Annual Advocacy Day on Thursday, April 4, 2019.

On Advocacy Day, leaders and supporters of free and charitable clinics sit down with their state representatives to let them know how upcoming legislative changes affect the patients, residents, and clinics in their districts. A few of our members, including Sara Nichols, are pros at explaining the significant impact a representative’s support can make in the daily lives of their constituents. As a total newbie, I watched as my group deftly conversed with the people who would help decide the future of our state.

It impressed me how confident and persuasive they were, and I realized that, like always, they were simply being honest about the effects of the new legislation and how much they cared about the outcome. Being surrounded by a group of people so fervently fighting for their patients in their respective clinics was both electrifying and humbling, as it made me want to fight alongside them and learn from them all at the same time.

While there were several issues we discussed that day, the most important piece of legislation was the expansion of the Medicaid Dental Expansion Pilot. The pilot was run in four different counties and included a 43% reimbursement rate (as opposed to the normal 21%). Three of the four counties did not experience much success; the private dentists agreed to take Medicaid patients if it was an emergency and did not advertise at all. As a result, there was very little increase in services performed for those on Medicaid. However, the pilot was extremely successful in Brown County. The dental clinic in Brown County seized the opportunity and coordinated with private dentists to see 4,000 additional patients! I cannot stress enough what an impact that has made on the population. The success of the pilot was largely due to the ability of the community-based non-profit dental clinic to realize the potential that extra 40 cents to the dollar could make and their skill at putting that little bit of extra money to use.

Currently, there are approximately 30,000 Walworth County residents who are living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (Source: 2014-2016 Wisconsin Family Health Survey, Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, Office of Health Informatics). As of the most recent statistics for insurance status in Walworth County, there are approximately 8,000 residents who do not have health insurance, there are 7,100 children enrolled in Medicaid, and 6,378 adults enrolled in Medicaid. There are 12,000 Medicare beneficiaries and 5,646 Veterans living in Walworth County. Currently, the majority of these folks MUST travel outside of the county in order to find a dentist who will treat them.

If the Medicaid Dental Reimbursement pilot was expanded to include clinics state-wide, OAFC would be able to serve and sustain dental services for the the underinsured with a ratio of 70% Medicaid and 30% Uninsured. Now that is something to smile about!

This was the message we were trying to communicate to our representatives at the capitol. There were certainly mixed results, with some individuals clearly seeing the potential of the program while others apathetically nodded their heads. It was difficult to see some people not “get it”, when the need seems so obvious to me, but talking with people who did understand and were supporting our needs was very encouraging.

Emotionally the day felt like a roller-coaster. Excitement to meet our government officials, awe of the beautiful capitol building, disillusion with the intent of the representatives, and finally hope that some people are working very hard to take care of their constituents.

I wrestled with all of these feelings in the car on my way out of Madison. The radio was spouting predictions on the governor’s budget, and it struck me that I was just in the midst of the very events behind the news stories. I hoped that our small conversations had an impact, and that sometime soon I would hear of how the State of Wisconsin was at the forefront of Free and Charitable Clinic support.

So talk to your representatives! Give them a call, send them a letter! They are real people who deserve to know the people they are representing. Tell them how they can support OAFC through these small changes or let them know how a free and charitable clinic has made an impact in your life.

Sincerely,

Kate Smith

If you would like to find your state representatives, click here. If you would like to find out more about Open Arms Free Clinic, visit our About Us page.

Volunteer Appreciation Week

Check out our latest eNewsletter: https://conta.cc/2Ke7n7f 

Celebrating a Life of Service

March 15, 2019 – Happy Birthday, Bea!

Retirement for some people means the end of work and the beginning of a life of leisure.  But for others, retirement is simply an extension of their passion and purpose in a different context.  To them, work is a lifelong expression of their love for their vocation and their love for people. 

Bea Schauer, age 91, is someone who’s life purpose and passion has found expression here at Open Arms since 2012.  Trained as a nurse in the early 1940’s, Bea has had a career in medicine that extends over a seventy year period.  She served as a nurse at Mercy hospital in Janesville until 1953 when she began raising eight children along with her husband on a farm west of Delavan.  After twelve years, she returned to a 30-year nursing career with Aurora that lasted until 1995.  But even after completing her official work with Aurora, she continued on as a Spanish speaking volunteer interpreter for the hospital system, visiting various clinics throughout the area whenever there was a need. 

Bea’s love for people and her bilingual abilities were nurtured at an early age.  Her parents emigrated from Mexico and settled in Fon Du Lac where Bea was born.  She was one of eleven children and was raised in a family that valued hard work and love.  At ten years of age, she was working with her family in the sugar beet fields!  Her parents expected all the kids to be successful at whatever they did- a value that encouraged she and three of her sisters to pursue nurses training after high school.  

Having been raised in a Mexican family, Bea has always had a love for people from Spanish speaking cultures- especially those who do not know English.  Finding and receiving good healthcare can be a fearful experience for anyone coming from another country.  Bea has been able to not only interpret medical things between doctor and patient at Open Arms, she has also been able to comfort and encourage patients so that they feel at ease through the process.  And going beyond interpreting in the exam room, she also ensures that the patients follow up with prescriptions and setting the next appointment.  To the staff, Bea is the Clinic’s mom.  She is always busy, helping and doing things that go beyond the job description of “interpreter.”  

Open Arms is blessed to have Bea come to the clinic every Tuesday and Thursday.  She both brightens the day and provides a sense of peace to all who work with her or who are served by her.  And Bea is blessed each week to continue her life’s passion and purpose with people who need and value her skills and love.  

GENEVA THEATRE ACTORS GUILD – OAFC Benefit 2.20.19

(Lake Geneva, WI) February 20 & 22, 2019 – As the cold and snow settle around us, it does the heart good to remember that February is the month of love.  So what better time to bring you a production about one of the most famous couples in theater!  No, not Romeo and Juliet, but Felix and Oscar.  Well, almost Felix and Oscar.  The Geneva Theatre Actors Guild will be performing the female version of the play “The Odd Couple”.

The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on March 10, 1965 and transferred to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre where it closed on July 2, 1967 after 964 performances and two previews. Directed by Mike Nichols, the cast starred Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Art Carney as Felix Ungar. The production gained Tony Awards for Walter Matthau, Best Actor (Play), Best Author (Play), Best Direction of a Play, and Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith), and was nominated for Best Play.  It has subsequently been reincarnated twice as a TV show.

In 1985, Neil Simon revised The Odd Couple for a female cast. The Female Odd Couple was based on the same story line and same lead characters, now called Florence Ungar and Olive Madison. The poker game became Trivial Pursuit with their friends becoming the girlfriends: Mickey, Sylvie, Vera, and Renee. The Pigeon sisters became the Costazuela brothers, Manolo and Jesus.

The Female Odd Couple opened on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theatre on June 11, 1985, and closed on February 23, 1986, after 295 performances and nine previews. Directed by Gene Saks, responsible for the 1968 film version, the leads were Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno as Florence (Felix) and Olive (Oscar), respectively, with Lewis J. Stadlen and Tony Shalhoub (in his Broadway debut) as the Costazuela brothers.

Our performances, held at the Geneva Theater, 244 Broad Street in Lake Geneva, will be as follows:

    • Wednesday, 2/20, at 7:30 PM
    • Friday, 2/22, at 10:00 AM

There is no charge for admission, but we recommend a $10 donation.  Proceeds from this show will benefit Open Arms Free Clinic.  

 

Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. (OAFC) is a volunteer-driven, donor-supported, community-based non-profit 501C3 organization, with a mission to better understand and serve with compassion the health and wellness needs of the low-income and uninsured residents of Walworth County, Wisconsin.  For those without the ability to pay, the Open Arms is the only clinic of its kind in Walworth County, exclusively dedicated to providing both primary care to all of its patients, as well as ongoing care and management to those with chronic disease – all without charge.  Since treating its first patient in December 2012, there have been over 2,800 patients served at OAFC with primary and specialty medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab and pharmaceutical assistance.  For more information on volunteering, donating, or becoming a patient, please visit us at openarmsfreeclinic.org or give us a call at 262-379-1401.

Valentine’s Feast Benefit for Open Arms Free Clinic – 2.15.19

For immediate release, January 3, 2019

Contact Julie Morse 847-830-4356 or iamjcmorse@gmail.com 

Linn Church Celebrates 175 YEARS Serving Geneva Lake Area Communities

2019 Anniversary Year Opens with Valentine’s Feast Benefit for Open Arms Free Clinic, 

on Friday, February 15, 4:30-7:30pm 

The year was 1844.  Samuel Morse sent the first electric telegram, James Polk was elected the 11th . President of the United States, and George Williams (of Wisconsin college fame) founded the worldwide YMCA organization…It was also the year that Linn Presbyterian Church was founded!    

Located near the shores of Lake Geneva, Linn Church (as it is referenced locally) is one of only a handful of regional churches that can claim such a long, strong history.  In following, 2019 will be a year filled with celebratory events at the Church, all open to the community-at-large.  The first is detailed here!  

Linn Church’s Valentine’s Feast for Open Arms Free Clinic – Friday, Feb. 15, 4:30-7:30pm.

Freewill donation, all welcome, no reservations required.

Come one and all for the church’s legendary spaghetti-and-salads benefit dinner, complete with breads from Simple Bakery of Lake Geneva – and, of course, home-made desserts!    Families and individuals of all ages in Walworth County are invited to come enjoy this never-too-late Valentine of a feast, with music and fellowship included. The feast, coordinated by church volunteers, will be held at the Church, W3335 Willow Road, Lake Geneva in Linn Township.

Freewill donations on this night will help support Open Arms Free Clinic (OAFC).  Located in Elkhorn, Open Arms is a volunteer-driven, donor-supported, non-profit 501C3 organization serving hundreds of low-income and uninsured residents of Walworth County with much-needed primary and specialty medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health services, as well as lab and pharmaceutical assistance.  Information about the clinic can be found at www.OpenArmsFreeClinic.org. 

Come eat, enjoy, and give as you can for Open Arms!

Linn Church is located at W3335 Willow Road, Lake Geneva in Linn Township.  Services are held Sundays at 10 a.m, led by Pastor Terry Hennesy. In addition to benefits like this one, the church has a multi-faceted outreach program, including free afterschool childcare on Wednesdays and early school release days.   Self-described as “A Traditional Church with a Contemporary Vision”, the Linn Presbyterian Church invites people of all ages and spiritual backgrounds to attend its services and events, and participate in its outreach programs.  For more information on any or all of Linn Church’s 175th Anniversary Year events, please call the church office at 262-248-1588 or visit the church website at linnchurch.wordpress.com. 

Winter Weather – Clinic Closings 2019

Due to the anticipated Winter Storm and life threatening and record breaking cold temperatures the clinic will be closed Monday, January 28 and Wednesday, January 30, 2019.  All scheduled appointments for those two days, including new patient enrollment, will be rescheduled.   Patient appoints scheduled for Tuesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 31, 2019 will be confirmed unless otherwise noted. If the weather forecast changes we will send out an email and post on Facebook.  Please drive safe and stay warm. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Health Insurance assistance at Open Arms

We are pleased to have health insurance expert, Dustin Schlesner, Principal of Clear Choice Insurance, to help Walworth County residents learn about their health insurance options. Local, no-obligation, FREE assistance is available to help you understand your Marketplace and other health insurance options.

WHERE: Open Arms Free Clinic, 205 E. Commerce Ct, Elkhorn, WI

WHEN: Wednesdays from 12:00 – 7:00 PM

  • October 17, 24, 31
  • November 7, 14, 28
  • December 5, 12

Questions? Want to reserve time? Please contact Dustin at 920.707.1423

https://www.healthcare.gov

Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. Awards the Village with Investment in Infrastructure Achievement 
Award and Donation to the Open Arms Free Clinic

[Fontana-on-Geneva Lake, WI, October 1, 2018] The Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake received the Investment in Infrastructure Achievement Award presented by Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. at their Village Board meeting on Monday, October 1, 2018. Ruekert & Mielke, Inc., a civil engineering firm serving Wisconsin for over 70 years, presents this award to exceptional communities in recognition for their efforts to better their community and residential life through successful infrastructure projects. 

 

“The Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake is an exemplary community when it comes to understanding the importance of proactively investing in infrastructure. Their forward-thinking and continuous efforts to maintain and upgrade their infrastructure help the community reduce long-term costs, while providing better service to their residents,” described Stan Sugden, President of Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. 

In addition to upgrading several clean water mains, the Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake is also improving water quality in the community by investing in various storm  water and wastewater projects. 

“Protecting the water quality of Geneva Lake is vital to this community. The Village has made significant storm water improvements across several neighborhoods to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and enhance local infiltration,” stated Terry Tavera of Ruekert & Mielke, Inc., who has served as the Village’s Engineer for 14 years. The Village also conducted a sanitary sewer study to identify ways to reduce the amount of clear water infiltrating sewer mains. “This information will help protect water resources and reduce sanitary treatment costs,” explained Tavera.  

As part of their award, Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. provides a $1,000 donation to a non-profit organization selected by the community. The Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake chose the Open Arms Free Clinic (OAFC), the first and only volunteer-driven medical and supportive care clinic in Walworth County. Since treating its first patient in December 2012, OAFC has served 2,800 low-income patients with primary and specialty medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab, and pharmaceutical assistance. 

“We consider it a privilege to meet our patients’ needs and feel blessed to have the support of the community through gifts of time and funds,” shares Executive Director, Sara Nichols. “It is a give and take of joy, health, and healing for all the patients AND volunteers who are part of our clinic family.”  As a result, the clinic continues to grow in the number of patients it serves, while at the same time broadens the services provided to the community. 

The operational dollars to support the clinic come from grants and private donations. For every dollar donated, they are able to dispense $10 worth of life-saving medication. “We are humbly grateful to receive the generous donation from The Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake via Ruekert & Mielke, Inc.’s Investment in Infrastructure Award. With it, Open Arms Free Clinic will be able to provide $10,000 worth of medication to our neighbors in need,” stated Sara Nichols. 

About the Village of Fontana-on-Geneva-Lake , WI
https://villageoffontana.com/
The Village of Fontana-on-Geneva is a beautiful and serene destination to enjoy a small-town atmosphere with all the benefits of a waterfront destination. Their scenic home sits on the western shore of Geneva Lake in Walworth County, Wisconsin, greeting residents and visitors with boutique shopping, hometown eateries, and outdoor recreation experiences. Their rare combination of lively, local events, community parks, and quality businesses is truly what makes Fontana an ideal place to live and visit.

About Ruekert & Mielke, Inc.
http://www.ruekertmielke.com/
Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. partners with communities to provide municipal infrastructure management that encompasses a broad range of municipal services throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. R/M has over 70 years of experience and assists communities in managing water, wastewater, storm water, transportation, municipal finance, electrical, SCADA control systems and construction review. R/M services are centered around technology and feature a cloud-based GIS portal that allows communities to access and manage their infrastructure in a mobile environment.

About Open Arms Free Clinic
https://openarmsfreeclinic.org/
Open Arms Free Clinic (OAFC) is the first and only volunteer-driven medical and supportive care clinic in Walworth County serving low-income and uninsured residents with primary medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab, and pharmaceutical assistance. Created in December 2011, and expanded in April 2015, Open Arms is an independent, community-based, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to better understand and serve with compassion the health and wellness needs of the uninsured, low income, and underserved residents of Walworth County. The clinic derives all its operating income solely from private donations, foundations, grants, and fundraising events.

# # #

Press Contact: 

Dave Pond
Marketing Manager

Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. 

www.ruekertmielke.com 

(262) 542-5733

dpond@ruekert-mielke.com