A new clinic is addressing health disparities in dental care for Black men in Wisconsin.
According to Madison 365, Aaron Perry is officially celebrating the grand opening of Perry Family Free Dental Clinic.
Located inside the Boys & Girls Club in Fitchburg, WI, the new clinic is an extension of the other Perry Family Clinics as they aim to address disparities in healthcare access and provide the community with preventative care.
During the grand opening event, Perry took a moment to acknowledge how the clinic, which focuses on the health and wellness of the community, especially Black men, came about.
“We were very fortunate to have SSM Health,” said Perry, per the outlet. “When they were closing their old clinic and they decided they were going to build a new one, we knew right away that a lot of the medical beds and cabinetry were going to end up in a landfill somewhere. I reached out to them and said we’re going to create an SSM Health medical facility, only we’re going to call it the Perry Family Free Clinic, and it’ll be free and we’ll take all of those old things out of your clinic.”
He continued, “They blessed us with that and told us to come and get everything you need. If you go into our free clinic, next to the barbershop, we put all of that stuff that would have been thrown away to good use.”
For the past six years, Perry and team have provided 7,400 Black men with both health screenings and preventative care.
Perry also expressed his gratitude for the support of the Wisconsin Partnership Program in helping him and the team secure funding that made the new dental clinic possible.
“Would we have gotten here without their support?” Perry said, according to Madison 365. “I’m not sure. We received a $300,000 community collaboration grant that got us started, and then we were awarded the community impact grant. That really put us over the top, and once we received that, we said that this community will not look the same in five years. I think we’re on pace for that. It gives me great pleasure that now we have medical, behavioral health, and we rounded out with dental care.”
Overall, the clinic’s mission is to promote a healthy mouth that will lead to an overall healthier life.
“It’s virtually impossible to have controlled diabetes if you have uncontrolled periodontal disease,” said Erica Olsen, who will serve as a dental hygienist at the clinic. “It’s chronic inflammation in the mouth, so anytime you are fighting any sort of chronic inflammation, it increases your risk for stroke, heart attack, and all the things. That’s really our goal in practice is to educate our patients to have a healthy mouth so they can have an overall healthier life.”
The first patients for Perry Family Free Dental were a father and his children, and Perry says there will be many more where they came from.