JOHNSTON, IA – Dr. Sarah Gingrich of Pipho Gingrich Family Dentistry in Dysart, IA, is one of four Iowa dentists announced as the 2020 recipients of educational loan repayment awards from the Fulfilling Iowa’s Need for Dentists (FIND) project, a collaborative public-private partnership lead by Delta Dental of Iowa. This program engages dentists to establish dental practices in Iowa counties that are designated as high priority, and to devote at least 35 percent of their practice to underserved populations, such as Medicaid-enrolled, disabled, and elderly persons.
“It’s fitting that Delta Dental of Iowa turns 50 this year and, through our public-private partnerships, we have now awarded more than 50 dentists with FIND awards since 2003. Access to dental care for all Iowans increases with each FIND award,” said Jeff Russell, president and CEO of Delta Dental of Iowa. “This commitment to practicing in underserved areas not only improves the oral and overall health of their patients, these dentists are also contributing to the economic health of their communities.”
Dr. Gingrich completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Iowa, and graduated from the College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics in 2007. She worked in large group practices in Minneapolis until 2016, when she moved back to Iowa to purchase a practice in Dysart and become a partner in Pipho and Gingrich Family Dentistry. Several partners provided community match for Dr. Gingrich’s FIND award, including Iowa Area Development Group, Aureon, Farmers Cooperative Telephone Company, and also local businesses.
The dental practice moved into a new facility in late 2019, which provides more clinical space and up-to-date equipment, and also includes better accessibility for disabled and elderly patients. According to Dr. Gingrich, the additional space is critical as the practice takes on additional patients due to recent retirements in area dental practices. Dr. Gingrich’s community activities have included classroom education during Children’s Dental Health Month and volunteering with Zion Lutheran Church, along with other community organizations.
“Pipho and Gingrich have a great community spirit and Dr. Gingrich fills a critical gap in access to dental care for this service area, ” said Carlie Beem, I-Smile Coordinator for Mid-Iowa Community Action.
Initial investments in a dental practice are significant. On average, dentists invest more than $300,000 in new equipment and technology, some building a practice from the ground up including new construction or remodeling an existing facility. Educational debt for most dentists averages more than $280,000.
The FIND project award recipients will each receive up to $100,000 in loan repayment funds in return for a five-year commitment. This includes $75,000 from Delta Dental of Iowa and the State of Iowa and a community match of at least $5,000, with an option for local organizations to contribute an additional $20,000.
Since Delta Dental began the Loan Repayment program in 2003, 52 private-practice dentists have participated in the Loan Repayment and FIND programs to provide 203,000 patient visits and more than 588,000 dental services to underserved Iowans. The program has expanded to include other statewide partners including, the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Iowa Area Development Group, Aureon, The University of Iowa College of Dentistry and Dental Clinics, Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, as well as numerous local organizations.
The FIND project recruits dentists to practice in underserved Iowa counties by helping them with their dental education debt. The Loan Repayment program is a component of Delta Dental of Iowa’s community impact program that invests in projects that support and improve the oral and overall health of Iowans. For more information, visit www.iowafindproject.com.