DENVER — The mission of Inner City Health has always been to provide medical and dental care to the uninsured and underinsured. Now, they’re taking that to the next step, offering grant money to pay for dental care for several veterans without VA benefits.
“A good percentage of our patients are veterans,” Dr. Andrea Leung, the clinic’s Chief Dental Officer, said.
But there is a reason that a portion of the veteran population don’t visit her clinic or get dental care whatsoever.
“If they’re not rated by the VA as 100% disabled from their service, they are not eligible for VA dental benefits,” Linda Olson, the clinic’s Senior Development Officer, told Denver7.
That leaves many veterans to face the cost of care themselves, either out of pocket or through another insurance company.
"I hadn’t been to a dentist in over 20 years since I was in the military," Air Force veteran Barbara Parker told Denver7. "I had a filling that had fallen out a couple years prior and was in a lot of pain and so I’m like, 'Okay, if they’re gentle.'"
“Dental care is expensive,” Olson said plainly.
And for Olson, fixing that problem is personal.
“My late husband was a patient here,” she said. “He had a myriad of issues after being in Vietnam. To fix his mouth, it fixed his feeling of well-being and health and it was kind of a miracle.”
She helped the clinic apply for and receive a grant that will help them provide about $1,000 in dental care to seven veterans.
“To help those people who might have fallen under the rug get the kind of care they desperately need, because they’ve neglected it, because they couldn’t afford it,” she said.
The clinic still has some of that grant money left and is looking to help more veterans like Barbara Parker without coverage to help.
"They were very patient, I had a lot of fear, they took their time, they worked with me, even did the root canal in two sessions so that it wasn’t so overwhelming," Parker said. "Financially they worked with me, paying for me, there’s nothing negative, everything is positive."
“Anybody who served this country and doesn’t have dental benefits are eligible to get this stipend,” Olson said.
The only caveat is they need to have been honorably discharged, according to Olson.
“I think it’s honestly the least that we can do, especially when they’ve made such a big sacrifice,” Dr. Leung said.
For more information on the grant or the clinic, contact the clinic at 303-296-4873 or visit their website.