On a recent trip to Wisconsin, I had an opportunity to tour the Peter Christensen Dental Clinic on the Lac du Flambeau Reservation. The tour was coordinated by Mary Peterson, Lac du Flambeau tribal treasurer, and led by Dr. Paco Fralick, the clinic’s director. It would be nearly impossible for me to convey all of the great information shared during my tour, but it’s safe to say that I’ve personally never been in a nicer dental office.
Prior to the opening of this facility, adequate dental care for tribal members on the reservation simply did not exist. The clinic operates 20 chairs and includes room for additional expansion — a need that may not be too far down the road. Dr. Fralick mentioned that just in the last month they had more than 200 new patients enroll.
Constructed by members of the LDF tribe, the facility includes native artwork and symbolism important to the community. The ceilings are covered with bark from trees harvested within the reservation.
Dr. Fralick was so gracious to show us all of the inner workings of the facility. The behind-the-scenes look included a tour of the patient rooms. Each room had flat-screen TVs above the dental chair — each massaging dental chair, that is! We also toured lab-tech rooms (where technicians prepare dentures and other oral prosthetics), clinical rooms, administrative offices, conference rooms, and break rooms.
The impact on the community is astounding. Not only does the facility service LDF tribal members, but patients come from neighboring cities and communities too. From routine appointments, to oral surgery, to fielding hospital cases, the clinic can do it all. The clinic will soon be expanding its services and open another door of dental care to the community — orthodontics. Patients will be able to get dental braces and the care they require at the clinic.
What made this tour even better was realizing that the facility was funded by New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs) provided by Travois New Markets in 2012. For nearly the last decade, I’ve been working with Travois on housing projects using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program. I’ve participated in the development of housing projects from start to finish. I’ve seen hundreds of homes rehabilitated and hundreds of homes constructed. And I have seen residential communities transformed. But I have never visited one of Travois’ completed NMTC projects!
To see the impact of this funding resource firsthand, and experience the positive effects on the community was breathtaking. The dental facility at LDF is certainly state-of-the-art, and Dr. Fralick and his team of dentists, hygienists, educators, students and staff are doing an excellent job serving LDF and the surrounding community.
Thank you for the opportunity to visit.