IU dental clinic shuts down at Wishard, affecting low-income Hoosiers

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When Wishard Hospital became Eskenazi Health, one thing got left behind. A low-cost dental clinic run by Indiana University’s School of Dentistry was shut down, leaving many Hoosiers wondering where to go next.

IU’s Regenstrief Emergency Dental Clinic at Wishard Memorial Hospital did not make the move to Eskenazi Health last weekend. A new dental clinic will open at the new 70,ooo-square-foot Eskenazi Health West on 38th Street. The facility is set to open in January.

With 16,000 visits to the former clinic each year, IU School of Dentistry Dean, Dr. John Williams, said the recent closure has left the burden on area walk-in clinics and dental schools.

While there are options, they are limited.

“This has all crept up on folks pretty quickly here,” said Williams. “We do a lot of patient care certainly in the context of education; so we welcome patients to be affiliated with the school. We’re just not in the position to provide free or excessively low-cost care.”

Jackie Castellano, a former Regenstrief patient, isn’t sure what to do. The x-ray tech lost her health insurance after being laid off last month. She needs to repair a filling and a chipped tooth.

“I’m kind of in limbo at the moment. Ibuprofen’s helping really good” Castellano chuckled. “I’m not usually the one who needs help with medical issues. I’m usually the one that helps.”

IU School of Dentistry is working with Eskenazi Health to possibly set up some new clinics in the future, but Williams said it may take time.

If you’re a former patient, click here for more information.

Here is a list of other free or low-cost dental care in the Indianapolis area:

Gennesaret Free Clinic: Offers free dental services, but only to the local homeless population. Documentation required.

IU School of Dentistry: Care by students under a dentist’s supervision. Services typically are available for fees lower than those charged by private dentists. More insurance companies accept.

Wishard’s Cottage Corner Health Center & Grassy Creek Health Center

People’s Health Center: Provides dental care to homeless population at no cost if they are referred through the Homeless Initiative Program. Low-income patients may qualify for dental services at reduced cost.

Marion County Health Department Dental Clinics: Cleo Blackburn Health Center, Forest Manor Community Health Office, Philip and Vivian Pecar Health Center

Raphael Health Center: No insurance needed. Sliding fee for treatment only after meeting with financial counselor.

Fountain Square Dental Clinic: Reduced fees based on what patients can afford due at the time of service. No emergencies on Wednesday or Friday.

Indiana Donated Dental Services: (317) 631-6022

Indiana Dental Association: 1-800-562-5646

Oral Health Research Studies at IU Dental on the IUPUI Campus (317) 274-8822