COVID VACCINE March 2021

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN GETTING THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

CONTACT OPEN ARMS FREE CLINIC TO SCHEDULE YOUR FREE SHOT

(262) 379-1401

Open Arms is a free safety-net medical, dental, and counseling clinic for Walworth County residents who do not have health insurance. COVID has impacted many people who have lost their jobs and health insurance and Open Arms is accepting new patients. The clinic is centrally located in Elkhorn near I-43 and Hwy 67. For more information about our clinic services, visit our website: https://openarmsfreeclinic.org/

Get your Ingredients for the Cook Along on 12.3.20

We are excited to have Lake Geneva Country Meats to share with the fans of Open Arms a delicious cook along experience.  Thank you OAFC Board Treasurer and Cooking King, Nick Vorpagel for sharing your gifts for our 8th Birthday Celebration.

For cooking instructions to print in advance of our Instant Premier on YouTube, visit: https://lakegenevacountrymeats.com/recipes/garlic-parmesan-chicken-thighs-with-sweet-potato-bacon-hash

Dementia Friendly Community Initiative Awards Purple Angel

Free Flu Clinic – 10.17.20

Open Arms Free Clinic is honored to partner with AmeriCares and Walgreens to offer free flu shots to Walworth County residents age 5 and up.  Location is 209 E. Commerce Ct, Elkhorn, WI. The hours are 9am – 1pm, while supplies last.  For those without the ability to pay, we are helping our community stay healthy and strong.  Please share the flyers with those in need.

Flyer – 2020 Flu Shot – English

Flyer – 2020 Flu Shot – Spanish

Grand Opening of Open Arms Dental Clinic

The community helped us achieve the vision to own a dental clinic building at 209 E. Commerce Ct., Elkhorn.  Thank you!

It was the end of 2018 when we learned that our property neighbor, a private dentist, was planning to move by the end of 2019. There are 2 buildings on our shared parking lot, and we already occupied one building for the medical services and food pantry. A feasibility study was completed by our ad hoc group of 2 private dentists, a realtor, lawyer, and investment broker to assess the building facility and the proposed business model to sustain a charitable dental clinic. In addition, we sought support from the Burlington Dental Society and Walworth County Health and Human Services to expand our dental program to meet the needs in the community, and they unanimously supported our efforts. Further, our relationship with Marquette Dental school was growing with a signed Affiliation Agreement to host D4 students. With the trifecta of positive influences, we immediately set in motion a capital campaign with the intent to purchase the dental building. The GENEROUS COMMUNITY was instrumental to allow us to assume full ownership of the building paying 100% in cash on December 30, 2019. With minor renovations and equipment repairs, we started seeing patients in the new building on January 28, 2020.  Certainly, there have been challenges with the COVID crisis, however we have a dedicated team that will be open for dental services Monday – Thursdays starting August 1, 2020.  A formal ribbon cutting event with Delta Dental Foundation of Wisconsin, elected officials, and dignitaries will take place on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at 4:00 PM at 209 E. Commerce Ct, Elkhorn, Wisconsin.

To reflect on a journey such as the one we have been on with Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. is a remarkable exercise.  Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. (OAFC) first opened its doors to serve the residents of Walworth County in November 2012.  The founding board of directors created the private, community-based 501c3 charitable organization with a dedicated mission to better understand and serve with compassion the health and wellness needs of low-income, uninsured residents of Walworth County. Providing primary medical care to the poor was its sole focus.  The operations ran on 100% private donations, 100% volunteers, and 100% heart and grit to meet the needs of our community (at the time there were 13,000 residents with no health insurance.)

The 2015-2020 Walworth County Community Health Improvement Plan listed “Access to Oral Health Care” as the top need to address. True to the Open Arm’s mission, as we cared for the medical needs of our patients, the need for dental services was alarming and we were determined to find the solutions within our organization.  Open Arms led the charge to chair a newly formed Walworth County Oral Health Coalition with community stakeholders. With the support of a founding OAFC board member, Dr. Robert Dillman, DDS, who had chaired the Wisconsin Dental Association 2013 Mission of Mercy in Lake Geneva (Walworth County), we began seeking the opportunities to address the issue of oral health access for the poor.  We collected donated dental equipment and supplies, moved into a larger clinic space, and in April 22, 2015, held our first dental service with volunteers Dr. Dillman and his long-time assistant, Jill Bonner.  

Open Arms held a dental clinic once a month with our volunteer team and while it was difficult recruiting additional volunteer dentists, we were realizing that the integrative medical-dental model was positive for our patients. In 2015, the board hired its first paid employee – the Executive Director, Sara Nichols. While still funded primarily on private donations, a grant award from the Wisconsin Dental Association to fund dental supplies gave us hope that the dental program could expand.  In 2016, a 2-year demonstration grant award by the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation allowed us to fund a paid part-time dental program coordinator/dental assistant and this created the support for five (5) additional volunteer dentists to come on board to help.  By the end of 2015, we had 55 dental patient visits that included initial dental exams with X-ray, 6 tooth extractions, 5 restorative care and 7 hygienic cleanings. All services were provided free of cost to patients and as expected, there was an endless wait list of patients requesting an initial dental exam. 

This early history is shared because it was the Wisconsin Department of Public Health 2017 Grant Award, the United Way of Walworth County, and other key private donors who were pivotal for us to build the capacity and strengthen the foundation of sustainable medical and dental care for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured residents of Walworth County. In 2017, we added a part-time paid dentist, hygienist, dental assistant, and program coordinator.  We expanded our 2-chair dental practice to 4-chairs in partnership with Inspiration Ministries, Inc.   We cared for adults and elderly. By 2018, we were approved as a Medicaid dental provider – the only general dentist practice in Walworth County to do this!  We were able to care for Medicaid-enrolled children and special needs adults. By 2019, we added more service hours with combined paid and volunteer staff, increased prevention, and restorative care, and even had dentures provided to a dozen patients.  The county’s Seal-A-Smile hygienists, school nurses, and local pediatricians were recognizing Open Arms Dental Clinic as a trusted resource for their families and the calls for dental care continued to grow.  

To reflect on the past eight years that Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc. has been in operation, where there was once no charitable dentist in Walworth County, to now that Open Arms has completed close to $1M worth of free dental care (i.e. 5,689 dental procedures completed between 2015-2019), there are many more smiling faces that we have been able to be part of.  The swift call and response of our community has been astounding. While the 2020 COVID crisis has been a serious hurdle, the dedication of our staff, volunteers, and community demonstrated that the Open Arms mission is an essential service. The next chapter of the dental program will see a full-time paid staff and students gaining a community clinic training opportunity from Gateway, Blackhawk, Milwaukee Area Tech, and Marquette.  We are grateful for the support of the entire community for supporting Open Arms on our journey. We hope that the next 5-year Community Health Improvement Plan no longer lists access to dental care a top priority – because we are here to stay. 

Patient Testimony:  

“Open Arms is a God Send! I was lucky enough to be seen by Doctor Dillman. I have to say without a doubt he treated me with care and compassion more than any dentist I’ve seen! Open Arms is helping me with all my medical and dental conditions, and my meds. Thank you to all the volunteers who treated me with dignity.”

Partners Testimony: 

We are so fortunate to have the Open Arms Free Clinic in Walworth County.  Our Board of Directors and Community Impact Committee can attest to the significant service they provide ensuring everyone has access to quality medical, dental and vision care.  The United Way of Walworth County believes that for all of us to succeed as a community, everyone must succeed.  Open Arms exemplifies this mission.  Recently, I received a phone call from a desperate man who had an abscessed tooth and no means to pay for care, fearing he might lose his job because the pain was overwhelming.  How wonderful to know I could give him the Open Arms phone number and he would receive exceptional treatment, with compassion.  Open Arms is the only provider of these health services for our uninsured, low income and underserved residents.  They are also exemplary, active leaders in our community and well-respected by more than 40 partner agencies of the United Way. 

~ Tammy Dunn, Executive Director, United Way of Walworth County

* **

When I think about the value of Open Arms Free Clinic to our community, I think about how Open Arms Free Clinic has become a vital part of our Walworth County Community. Open Arms Free Clinic has partnered with our Health and Human Services Department on a variety of programs including Walworth County Suicide Prevention, Education, Awareness Coalition, Walworth County Drug and Alcohol Coalition, and the Oral Health Coalition.  For many years they have partnered with the Public Health department to become an access point for immunizations within the community. Further, they have provided leadership to a community coalition to address the shortage of dental services in our community.  Through their dedication to the community, they have become one of the largest access points for dental services, providing basic dental care to the uninsured and underinsured in Walworth County. Their volunteers provide local access to medical services including access to necessary lab testing and medications. In addition, Open Arms Free Clinic provides access to behavioral health treatment in support of a holistic approach to care.

Thirty-nine percent of Walworth County households are considered asset limited, income constrained, employed. This means that more than a third of Walworth County families are living day to day, paycheck to paycheck. Open Arms Free Clinic is a vital component of the safety net that assures Walworth County families have access to medical, dental, and behavioral health services. Without their support many individuals within our community would not have the access they require to lead healthy lives.  I am grateful to have Open Arms Free Clinic as a part of our community.

~ Elizabeth Aldred, Director, Walworth County Health and Human Services

READ what Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation shared about us:

https://www.deltadentalwi.com/s/foundation-newsletter#Open-Arms-Free-Clinic

Clinic stays open during pandemic

Since 2012, Open Arms Free Clinic has been dedicated to providing access to basic health care, and we are not going to stop now. As medical providers, we are prepared to care for our patients just as any other health care facility.  We may be driven by volunteers, but as public health servants who understand the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors, we will not crumble.  We urge patients  keep those medical appointments already scheduled at Open Arms. Your health is important – physical, mental, and oral health! We are here for you.

We know people living in poverty or without access to healthcare face the greatest risk from this pandemic. We understand the rational for the Governor’s mandate for social isolation, it is a public health measure to reduce the potential for infection so that the major health systems can build up their infrastructure and care for those with serious needs. On a national level, we are working with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to acquire treatment medications at the free clinics as one becomes available.  We are following the scientific gold standard of information from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  On the local level, our leadership team is in constant communication with the Walworth County Health Department and AdvocateAurora Health.  We have a triage protocol if anyone calls or walks in with viral symptoms.  In addition to our standard cleaning and personal safety tools, we are asking our volunteers to use common sense and stay home for 14 days if they have recently traveled internationally or have viral symptoms.  Our patients are vulnerable due to their medical conditions and our elderly volunteers are vulnerable too.  As a community of care providers, we will continue to open our arms to keep us all safe.

Here in this extraordinary time, you likely have started to feel the impacts of COVID‑19 (the coronavirus). You might be changing your routines and taking extra care to stay safe, for yourself and your loved ones. Be calm, be courageous, and be kind.  While you may or may not have enough toilet paper for the extended time at home, remember our community is strong and we need to work together.  Offer to help a family who still needs to report to work yet needs to find a way to homeschool their kids for the next month.  Offer to pick up groceries for a friend if you are immune strong and able.  Check on a neighbor who you know may already feel the loneliness of social isolation.

Thank you in advance for heeding the recommendations of the trusted public health sources, as they have learned best practices since the cholera outbreak (circa 1800s) to the polio outbreak (circa 1950s) and everything else we have heard about in our current lifetime (Influenza, Ebola, SARS, Zika…).  We can do this – together!

Resources:

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Elkhorn, WI – “A Million Dreams” were realized when Open Arms Free Clinic exceeded their goal of raising $50,000 private donations towards the Delta Dental of Wisconsin Foundation Challenge Grant. The event funds were targeted to expand dental services in Walworth County with a purchase of the dental building (former home of Family Dental Arts) adjacent to their current location.

The 7th Annual Birthday Gala event was held on Friday, December 6, 2019, at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, where a record number of guests bid on over 50 silent auction items, had the opportunity to participate in a cork pull, gift box raffle, paddle raise, and ended the evening with lively dancing to TVK Orchestra. The annual event held on the First Friday of December celebrates the anniversary of treating its first patient on December 6, 2012.

With the purchase of the 6- chair dental clinic, Open Arms will be able to expand the number of patients, expand its qualifying criteria, and have a platform to host qualified dental students pursuing a career in public health dentistry.

“The need for dental services for the poor was realized in 2013 when Lake Geneva hosted over 2,000 county residents receiving free dental care during the Mission of Mercy event sponsored by the Wisconsin Dental Society,” shared Dr. Robert Dillman, Open Arms Dental Director and Event Chair, along with his wife Tina.  Executive Director, Sara Nichols stated, “Ever since Open Arms started dental services in 2015, we knew there were over 30,000 Walworth County residents in need to access dental services. It’s been our dream to gain community support to help us solve this big problem and help our neighbors in need.” Open Arms Free Clinic (OAFC) is the only dental provider in Walworth County that serves people who are low-income, uninsured, and also special populations who have Medicaid insurance.

With over 700 witnesses and community supporters present at the 7th Annual Birthday Gala, Open Arms will be able to move forward on its goals to meet the community needs.  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. For those without the ability to pay, Open Arms Free Clinic 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 supportive care to those with chronic disease. Since treating its first patient in December 2012, there have been close to 3,000 patients served at OAFC with primary and specialty medical, dental, vision, behavioral health, lab and pharmaceutical assistance.

Read More

Open Arms on the Radio

11.8.19 – Thank you WLCO for sharing our story.

Thank you TMJ4!

11/12/19 – Pete Zervakis, Milwaukee’s TMJ4, shared our story as we get ready to celebrate our 7th year since treating our first patient.

Video

Governor Visits the Clinic

 

Photographed from L: Dennis Skrajewski, WAFCC Executive Director, Karla Tildahl, OAFC Board Member, Governor Tony Evers, Becke Connelly, OAFC Community Relations Coordinator, Secretary Andrea Palm, Jeff Scherer, AOFC Board President, Dr. Robert Fasano, OAFC Medical Director, Cortney Shiroda, OAFC Volunteer Coordinator, Judy Johnson, OAFC Board Member

August 2019

GOVERNOR EVERS AND SECRETARY PALM VISIT OPEN ARMS FREE CLINIC

~Impressions by Becke Connelly, Community Relations Coordinator For Open Arms Free Clinic

As we all waited in anticipation of Governor Evers and Secretary Palm’s arrival, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with pride that they had selected OUR clinic to visit out of the two they were touring that day. (10 clinics had been suggested!). With just 3 weeks under my belt as Community Relations Coordinator for the clinic, it was amazing to be witnessing this monumental event. Even though I am new to my position, I have been aware of the clinic since its inception. To have watched it grow since it opened its doors in 2012 to where we are today, it makes being part of the team that much more rewarding. 

From the moment that they arrived, I sensed the sincere interest in our clinic, staff, volunteers, interns and our mission “to better understand and serve with compassion” from the Governor and Secretary.  They seemed to soak in their surroundings along with the words from Father Dan. We greeted them as they walked in with their entourage and began to tell them our story. Fr. Dan Sanders, the clinic’s founder, shared with them the events, dating back to 2011 that led to this moment. 

As we moved into the dental clinic, they inquired about our current structure and services we provide to our patients. Our Dental Coordinator, Mary Beth Egert,  passionately and professionally explained how our clinic operated and our desire to expand. She explained we are limited in our current space and how being able to purchase the dental clinic next to us would open up so many doors. Such doors include being able to care for more patients than we are currently able to treat; bringing on more volunteer and paid dentists and hygienists; beginning a partnership with Marquette University, allowing students to get in the hours they need in order to graduate (which gives us the dentists we need in return). Mary Beth summed it up by saying, “Our goal is to have health, not treat disease”. I sensed this really resonated with the Governor and Secretary. Mary Beth knocked it out of the park!

Southern Lakes Newspaper – August 6, 2019

Continuing the tour, we pointed to our lab, where we are able to run blood tests for a fraction of the cost other labs are able to provide, to the health education room, where Father Dan explained this is where our partners consult with patients about nutrition education, financial counseling and assisting with health insurance. This room is also used on Thursdays for medication pick up.

Next was a visit to our Dispensary Room, it was so cool to watch the Governor and Secretary actually walk in and chat with our team including Pharmacy Director Bill Clark, a Founding Board Member and volunteer pharmacist. They were able to share with them that we have over 200 meds in stock, many of them free to us from pharmaceutical programs for patient assistance, and how we have dispensed over $2,000,000 worth of life-saving medications to our patients.

Because of the engagement, we were a bit behind schedule, which I took as a good thing, and I got the “we have 10 minutes left” from one of the Governor’s staff, so we quickly looked in on the vision, echo and counseling rooms before moving into the conference room, where some of OAFC board members were waiting. Home-baked goodies, (which both the Governor and Secretary took some with for the ride back to Madison), were brought in by Judy Johnson, a founding board members and champion fundraiser. We all sat and had a conversation about health care, the need for further funding for clinics such as ours and the immediate need for better dental care in our county. Listening to the discussion, I was humbled by the genuine compassion displayed by the members of the board. Knowing each and every one of them is a volunteer only solidified my beliefs in OAFC and our mission. At the conclusion of our visit, (which went well past the 10-minute mark), Judy presented both Governor Evers and Secretary Palm our clinic’s symbolic dove pins, and was beaming with pride as they graciously accepted them.

On our way out for a photo op, Governor Evers shook the hand of one of our patients, words truly cannot describe the look of awe on the patient’s face.  My eyes quickly filled as it was such a genuine moment and I was there witness to it!

As we waved goodbye to the group, the feeling of pride was overwhelming, as was the fact that the need for affordable or free medical treatment is real. My prayer is The Governor, Secretary and others in Madison understand it is real as well.

To learn more about the Wisconsin State Oral Health Program  Click Here

Gazette 8.9.19_EVERS visits OAFC