Work to be assumed by other organizations as dental services increase
Bend-based Kemple Memorial Children’s Dental Clinic announced Tuesday that the organization will close its doors July 1 and its services will be assumed by various organizations in Central Oregon.
Since 1998, Kemple Clinic has served as Central Oregon’s only nonprofit dental organization, providing high-quality dental care at no charge to the region’s at risk, uninsured, underserved and underinsured children and young adults.
Kemple and volunteer dental professionals across our region have given their time and energy to treat at risk youth in need of dental services. These pro bono dental services have averaged an in-kind value of $725,000 per year to the Central Oregon community, according to a news release from the organization.
Over the last few years, entities such as Oregon Health Plan, Pacific Source (the region's Coordinated Care Organization) and Dental Care Organizations (DCOs) have been working to close that gap in care by integrating dental coverage with overall health improvement priorities.
In addition, the Oregon Legislature has twice approved the Cover All Kids program through June 2021, allowing undocumented children to apply for OHP.
Our region, through the Central Oregon Regional Health Improvement Planning process, has set specific goals and objectives for at-risk youth dental needs and has dedicated resources to that process.
In tandem with the state and regional efforts, Mosaic Medical has prioritized integrating dental care within its medical clinics and has opened full service dental clinics in Redmond and Bend in the last few years. These clinics serve adults and children with or without insurance.
Suzanne Browning, executive director of the Kemple Clinic, says she and Kemple’s board of directors closely watched this positive and consistent trend among care providers and knew it was time for the organization to make a change.
As she explains, “Nonprofits exist because a need exists. In the case of Kemple Clinic, the gaps we worked to fill over the past 22 years have been closed and our mission has been accomplished.
"It has been an honor to serve the community for more than two decades and we are proud of the positive impact our work has had on children and their families. We have the utmost confidence that organizations such as Mosaic will carry on that work in an environment where patients can receive wraparound medical and dental care.”
During the transition period, Kemple Clinic will work with its referral agencies to ensure at risk youth and their families understand their care options and, if OHP-insured, that these youth are assigned to a local dentist.
Kemple Clinic’s current plan is to continue to offer cleanings and preventative care for those patients who are already scheduled through the organization’s recall system through the end of June. Urgent and emergent needs, however, will be directed to other partners as appropriate.
Donna Mills, executive director of the Central Oregon Health Council, added, “It is with great gratitude that the Central Oregon Health Council congratulates Kemple Clinic for filling the gap for the past 22 years while planning for mission fulfillment.
"We are grateful to be part of the continuing efforts to bring resources to the wellness gaps in the region. We appreciate all our partners who have worked with Kemple Clinic throughout their many years that have a vision that aligns with COHC; Creating a Healthier Central Oregon.”