Health, Hope & Opportunity

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What Is The Perfect Dental Storm? According to Webster, a perfect storm is “a critical or disastrous situation created by a powerful concurrence of factors.” So what does a perfect dental storm look like, and why does it occur?

FIRST, you have a person for whom dental care has not been a priority, for whatever reason. Maybe they are afraid of dental care. Maybe they are uninsured. Regardless of the reason, the person has no dental home. SECOND, that person develops a dental emergency. That emergency might be a cavity that has been brewing for years and suddenly becomes painful. It could be an accident that knocks a tooth loose. Whatever the case, it is causing intense pain and must be dealt with…now.

THIRD, this person calls Cherry Health to get an emergency dental appointment. “We get an average of 20-30 calls each day for dental emergencies,” says Dr. Timothy Hill, Chief Dental Officer for Cherry Health. “The problem is that our clinic schedules are completely full every day, and there’s a 3-6 month wait for new patient appointments. There’s no room in the schedule for emergencies.” So what happens? The person who is in pain, who did not plan to be at the clinic, sits waiting…and waiting…and waiting, while other people file in and out. If he or she is lucky, a dentist will hopefully (but not always) be able to solve the problem in one visit. That is not a great feeling for the patient, who could wait two hours or more. Understandably, there are a lot of short tempers and a lot of frustration.

Emergency Dental Needs 20-30 calls each day Most emergencies take 45-60 minutes Roughly half of them involve removing a tooth

This daily pressure creates tremendous stress on the staff, too. Dr. Hill points out, “We try so hard to fit people in, but we rarely know what we are going to see. Many of these emergencies have developed over years of neglect, so there’s not a quick fix.” Dr. Hill confesses, “We can only do so much. We don’t want patients to miss appointments. But if everyone shows up, there is no place to put the emergencies. At some point, you accept this situation as normal. It shouldn’t be, but it is, and it’s sad.”

SEE PAGE 2 for an innovative solution to the dental emergency problem!

Introducing a New Port in the Storm Emergency Dental Clinic to Open

Remodeling Belknap

Dental emergencies are unplanned and urgent. That does not fit well in a standard dental clinic, where appointments are planned months or even a year in advance.

Our plan is to remodel and reopen our Belknap facility. Previously, this site combined medical services with two chairs for dental services. That is not enough for an efficient emergency dental clinic. “We really need 4-5 chairs, which is what a small dental office would have,” Dr. Hill explains. “That allows us to bring multiple people in, take a case history and run diagnostic tests. Then the dentists can move from room to room more quickly.”

Our dental staff has devised a new solution for emergencies. It will be more like a dental Emergency Room, where patients come in without appointments and are seen in order of appearance. This should make the process more streamlined, give a feeling of fairness and order for patients, and eliminate much of the waiting.

“This approach will create a much more positive atmosphere for the patients,” notes Dr. Hill. “They will be seen in order, and their care will not rely on someone else missing an appointment. It will also be easier for patients to determine where they should go for care. Instead of calling around to figure out which clinic might fit them in, patients will know that emergencies come to Belknap.”

In an added bonus, this new arrangement will also better utilize the skills of our dental providers. “Just like with medical doctors, there are some who enjoy assessing and helping with walk-in emergencies,” notes Dr. Hill. “There are others for whom that work is very stressful. Now we will have the best providers taking care of people in the way that is best suited to their skills.”

YOU CAN HELP! Gifts to Cherry Health Foundation are needed to complete this $350,000 project. Call us at 616.965.8217 or email to support this critical need.

Special thanks to our Annual Partners in Health, who have committed to a year-long relationship in support of Cherry Health through sponsorship and learning opportunities. Please contact the Foundation at 616.965.8267 to learn more.

Anna Goddard


Patti Griswold & Kevin Haviland


Debra L. Sikanas & Dr. Russell Radford

This Mission Can Hook Anyone! As Chair of the Cherry Health Foundation Board, India Manns is quick to tell you why she gives both her time and her financial resources to Cherry Health.

“Good health care is a right that should be afforded to everyone,” she says emphatically. “I have a passion for helping the underserved, and health care happens to be one place where inequities are prevalent.”

Aligning With Community If you have not heard of Acrisure

Benefits Group yet, you will soon! This dynamic, fast-growing organization has moved into a new corporate

headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids. They are part of a global

company with 500-600 locations

worldwide that is expanding through

more than 150 acquisitions per year.

“MY GOAL IS TO BE A VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS, AND TO ENSURE THAT EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO QUALITY CARE.” INDIA MANNS When India and her husband, Bill, moved to Grand Rapids from California, she very quickly got connected to Cherry Health. All it took was one tour, and she was on board. “This mission can hook anyone,” she says. “I am struck by both the quality comprehensive care and the feeling of being loved that the wrap-around services provide. Sometimes people think that you should somehow get less if you do not have the ability to pay. Bill and I do not. And we know Cherry Health treats everyone with dignity and respect.” As the Foundation Board Chair, India also understands why philanthropy matters. “Meeting people where they are is very important,” she notes. “Most healthcare organizations cannot do that. Cherry Health has a village approach. The comprehensive services make a huge difference in creating successful outcomes. Although Cherry Health receives sliding-scale fees for services, they are often very low and leave a substantial payment gap. Philanthropy allows us to fill that gap while still caring for everyone. And that seamless, caring service is what yields the best results.”

Acrisure’s overarching philanthropic goal is to align with community

interests. Now that Grand Rapids is

home, they chose to invest in Cherry

Health as a presenting sponsor for our Fall event, Cherry Health Celebration.

Jim Alton, President, says that Cherry

Health’s mission grabbed his attention from the beginning. “Health care has

never been more germane,” he notes.

“What stands out to me is that Cherry Health helps those who would not

otherwise have access to health care. What’s more important than that?

Their mission of health care equality

aligns with ours, and mine in particular. It is a wonderful organization with far-reaching impact.”

Jim has also taken note of the work Cherry Health President and CEO

Tasha Blackmon is doing to create

intentional culture. “From a business

perspective, I am impressed by Cherry Health’s employee retention. You have to take care of the caregivers in order to deliver quality care.”

We sincerely thank Jim and Acrisure

Benefits Group for partnering with us to build a better community for all!

Get Involved in the Mission! Give online at

Use the enclosed envelope.

Healing After ACEs You may have seen or heard about the term “ACEs” in reference to health. ACEs refer to Adverse Childhood Experiences. These are experiences that happen before a person’s 18th birthday and cause what is known as toxic stress. They can include sexual or physical abuse, hunger, parental separation or divorce, and other things. ACEs are at the root of many problems of physical, mental, economic and social health in all humans. They are not specific to race, economic status, education, or any other demographic characteristic. They are part of the human existence. The more ACEs a child experiences, the more likely he or she is to develop chronic disease as an adult, as well as social and emotional problems. People with high ACE scores are shown to have, among other things: Dramatically increased risk for 7 out of 10 leading causes of death Life expectancy shortened by 20 years Triple the lifetime risk of lung cancer and heart disease

But here is the good news. If we identify that a person has experienced significant ACEs, we can intervene. By reducing the stress of those events when they are happening, we can reduce their impact on future health. Cherry Health is partnering with the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) of Kent County to co-locate services in our Heart of the City Health Center. Children who are identified as being victims of sexual abuse will be immediately referred to the CAC for counseling and preventive measures. We plan to serve 250 children annually through this service. We will also expand our counseling department to serve families that have higher ACEs scores. It is almost impossible to imagine how the emotional and physical health of these children will change for their lifetimes if we can help them reduce the trauma they are experiencing. Generous donors to Cherry Health Foundation will fund this initiative. This is a significant fundraising priority for us this year.

Learn more about ACEs, and the way our understanding of them can revolutionize our approach to human health, through this short TED Talk video.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved in this exciting opportunity, please email or call 616.965.8217.


100 Cherry Street SE Grand Rapids MI 49503 Anna Goddard, CFRM Foundation Director 616.965.8217 Kat MacDonald Donor Relations & Events Manager 616.965.8267 Laura Portko Foundation Coordinator 616.965.8254

India Manns, Chair Patti Griswold, Vice Chair Ann Liefer, Treasurer Elizabeth Joy Fossel, Secretary Shelley Irwin Dr. Lisa M. Lowery

Peaches McCahill Jessica Payne Alexis Reame Elizabeth Triezenberg Robert L. Tolbert, Jr. Carroll Velie

To opt out of future communications, please email or call 616.965.8254.