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Community Health Center to open in Clarion

Community Health Center to open in ClarionClarion Opening Spring 24

In a unanimous vote the board of Community Health Center of Fort Dodge voted to purchase the Dental Office of Kelch, Pamela K DDS located at 303 N Main St, Clarion, IA. A contract to purchase was signed on January 18, 2024, and plans for Community Health Center to open the doors to patients in the spring are underway.

Pamela Kelch, DDS retired at the end of 2023 and closed the practice. “As we were filling positions for our Eagle Grove location this fall one of the candidates interviewed indicated she was applying and would be available for employment at the end of December as her current employer was retiring. This led to some investigation about the possibility of Community Health Center of Fort Dodge, Inc. purchasing the practice from Kelch to continue dental services as well as add medical and behavioral health for the Clarion community.” said Renae Kruckenberg, CEO, Community Health Center of Fort Dodge with locations in Fort Dodge, Mason City, Dayton and Eagle Grove.

This is the second purchase of a dental office in Wright County by Community Health Center in the last year. In March 2023 a location in Eagle Grove was purchased and opened its doors in July, it too had been a dental practice and now offers medical and behavioral health services in addition to dental. “Our Eagle Grove location has been busy from the start, especially dental services. The need is there in Wright County and as a Federally Qualified Health Center we see the numbers, we know the need in this area for care.” Kruckenberg went on to say.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center they complete a comprehensive needs assessment once every three years, that is updated annually for the next two years until the next comprehensive needs assessment is completed. Extensive information is compiled through these needs assessments and of the 6-county area (Calhoun, Cerro Gordo, Hamilton, Humboldt, Webster and Wright counties). Wright County has the lowest median household income at $55,395 compared to $65,428 in Iowa. It also has the lowest per capita income at $31,061 compared to $34,817 in Iowa. Wright County is Dental Health Professional Shortage area as well as a Primary Care Health Professional Shortage area for the low-income population.

Of the students enrolled in kindergarten or 9th grade, more students in Wright County’s school districts required dental care and urgent dental care at 15% as compared to Iowa’s school districts at 12.8% according to information from the Iowa Department of Public Health. In the Eagle Grove School District, there were more students in the High School at 20.0% that required dental care than in Iowa at 12.8% and more students in the Elementary School that required urgent dental care at 3.6% as compared to Iowa at 1.8%.

The Clarion location will operate under the umbrella of Community Health Center of Fort Dodge, Inc, doing business as Community Health Center of Clarion. It will provide a full line of dental services including, but not limited to, dental exams, cleanings, sealants, dental x-rays, extractions, and fillings. They will also offer primary medical care and behavioral health services such as diagnoses of psychiatric or mental health illness, medication management and therapy.

The health center accepts most private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and offers a sliding fee scale to those who qualify. The sliding fee discount program gives those who are uninsured or underinsured another option for payment. At the Clarion office, the front desk staff member will be able to assist patients in filling out forms with the proof of their household income to see if they qualify. If additional assistance is needed, patients will have access to the financial advocate at the Fort Dodge office to guide them in assessing what type of financial assistance for which they may qualify.

Patients who had been with Pamela Kelch, DDS will not need to take any action to transfer their records as Community Health Center has assumed and will manage all records from her practice.