Ten years ago as we prepared for the arrival of the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, I had no idea how much Delta Dental’s outreach program would grow in a decade: Dakota Smiles now consists of two trucks (Care Mobile and Smile Mobile) traveling the state delivering dental treatment to about 3,400 children a year; we have five oral health educators working with local educators and medical providers throughout the state to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of good oral health; and most recently our Circle of Smiles program employs seven dental hygienists who are working year-round delivering preventive dental care on South Dakota reservations and collaborating with 15 new tribally-employed oral health coordinators to ensure that Native American families can navigate the dental care system to get the dental treatment they need. As the years have gone by and Delta Dental’s outreach program has expanded, the numbers have grown more impressive. As of 2013 year-end the Dakota Smiles Program had served 23,428 patients, delivering more than $10.6 million of care. In its first year of operation the Circle of Smiles project served more than 3,500 patients and we expect to serve more than 4,000 patients in 2014. As Delta Dental’s community benefit programs have grown, so has the company’s financial commitment: Delta Dental donated $520,600 in 2003; annual contributions had grown to $1,507,808 by 2008; and $2,576,724 in 2013. I’m grateful to the Delta Dental of South Dakota board and our foundation board for their unwavering support of our mission. Several private and public funders have leveraged Delta Dental’s investments to improve the oral health of more South Dakotans. We have many others to thank. The South Dakota Dental Association and its member dentists have been supporters as partners, advocates, donors, and volunteers. The South Dakota Oral Health Coalition and its members help to identify needs and collaborate to implement solutions. Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Dakota and South Dakota McDonald’s restaurant owners have been important partners since the beginning. Dakota Smiles site partners and site sponsors handle all the local arrangements and help defray a portion of the cost. Circle of Smiles partners include the South Dakota Dental Association, Aberdeen Area Indian Health Service, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board, and South Dakota’s nine tribes, and most of the startup funding is coming from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Finally, this work would not be possible without the support of Delta Dental’s employees, customers and business partners. As Delta Dental of South Dakota has grown, become more efficient, and stronger financially, employees and customers have embraced and supported Delta Dental’s nonprofit mission. It’s been said that the reward for doing good is the opportunity to do more. With the help of our many partners, Delta Dental will continue to pursue future opportunities to improve the oral health of all South Dakotans.
Scott Jones, CEO