WOODSTOCK – The McHenry County Cooperative Dental Clinic closed this week after 19 years, in the wake of the unexpected resignation of its latest dentist.
The Board of Health made the decision Monday evening in the wake of the resignation of dentist Rosa Bellido-Griffin, who held the job for about a year, Department of Health spokeswoman Keri Zaleski said. The clinic, located in downtown Woodstock, served low-income residents – it performed about 15,000 dental procedures last year, according to records.
“Without the dentist there, we are unable to generate income, and the dental clinic is self-supporting, so the decision, unfortunately, was made that financially it is not viable,” Zaleski said.
The decision to close the clinic affects about five full-time-equivalent positions, according to the 2016 county budget.
Bellido-Griffin, who Zaleski said resigned for personal reasons, could not be reached for comment, and the phone number listed for her dental practice has been disconnected. She was the second dentist to have the job for a short period of time since the departure of former supervisor Diane Metrick, who resigned in 2014 under the controversy of a scathing audit of the facility.
The clinic received its funding through Medicare, Medicaid and a sliding fee scale based on clients’ ability to pay. Its budget for the current county fiscal year was $573,347. Revenues have declined over the past two years, meaning it has had to rely more on its fund reserve.
Patients who received services or who have scheduled appointments will be contacted in the next few weeks. The Greater Elgin Family Care Center, which can be reached at 815-363-9900, offers low-income dental services, and a list of others can be found on the health department’s website at www.mcdh.info.
A 2014 internal audit released to the public last year revealed that problems abounded at the clinic under a now-discontinued grant program to give low-income veterans access to dental care. It revealed systemic problems with how the program was administered, including double-billing, conflicts of interest and misuse of taxpayer resources. Metrick and her husband, who also was a dentist at the clinic and was supervised by her, resigned shortly after the audit’s conclusion.
The clinic was established in 1997 based on an idea by Harvard dentist Joseph Hagenbruch to create a way to give low-income residents greater access to dental care.