Dental health impact: Linn County

Dec 19,2012
In 2005, Mike Goger DMD, retired from his Albany dental practice. It wasn't more than three months later that he decided he needed to start volunteering. And to Goger, it made sense that he would put his dental expertise to good use for those in need.

"I started volunteering with Medical Teams International, which took me all over the place, including Cambodia," Goger said. "But it was when I worked on a mobile dental van in South Dakota, sponsored in part by the Ronald McDonald Charities Foundation, I realized that we needed the same thing in Oregon. I asked myself why I was traveling all over, when people needed these services in my own back yard."

Goger was driving force to help bring a Medical Teams International and a Tooth Taxi dental van to Linn County. He then focused his efforts on teaming up with Samaritan Health Services' InReach Clinic, the Boys & Girls Club of Albany, the Greater Albany Public School District and United Way of Linn County to create a dental clinic at the Boys and Girls Club. The clinic opened in April of 2011 and saw 422 patient visits by the end of the year.

"The patients are so grateful for the treatment received. Dentists don't hear the words 'thank you' very often, but almost every patient we care for says 'thanks'. I think it shows how much of a difference dental care makes in their lives." Goger said.

Increasing access to dental care is a community health priority supported by Samaritan Health Services through its Community Health Promotion Program, which includes efforts such as InReach as well as Social Accountability grants made to other local health-focused agencies and initiatives.