Community Dental Clinic expands in new location

This larger space on Pleasant Avenue in Park Rapids will allow CHI St. Joseph's Health Community Dental Clinic to serve more patients. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Dental Clinic has moved into a larger building across the street from its previous location on Pleasant Avenue.

Now located in the former Park Rapids Eye Clinic, the new dental clinic is projected to provide dental care to more than 3,000 people each year. The new 5,200-square-foot facility features state-of-the-art equipment, spacious treatment rooms, a private consultation office, expanded waiting space and facilities designed to accommodate people with special needs.

The original dental clinic opened in 2004 to meet a critical need for oral health care for individuals who lacked dental insurance or enrolled in public programs. It also helped address the general shortage of dentists in rural Minnesota.

Since opening, the dental clinic had been operating in a leased space that was not large enough to accommodate an increasing number of patients.

The new dental clinic is more accessible for patients. It also provides more space, including additional treatment rooms, which has allowed CHI St. Joseph’s Health to hire two additional dentists.


CHI St. Joseph’s Health has subsidized the dental clinic’s operating losses for many years due to insufficient reimbursement from state programs. This has made it financially challenging for St. Joseph’s to build its own clinic.

Several years ago, a vision and a strategy were developed to pursue grants and fundraise for a new location. In 2018 an opportunity came along to purchase the old Park Rapids Eye Clinic, and the transaction was completed in 2019.

The building was renovated and expanded with a goal to improve access to dental care and improve the overall health of the population while maintaining a financially sustainable dental clinic that provides high quality care to some of the most vulnerable populations in the region.

The new dental clinic was made possible by $1.5 million in combined grant funding from Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, Otto Bremer Trust, Minnesota Department of Health, PrimeWest Health, The Engelstad Foundation and the Offutt Family Foundation.

Donations from the CHI St. Joseph’s Health Annual Gala and other private donations filled an important deficit for the project.

“Strong support from our grant partners and community support paved the way for the project,” CHI St. Joseph’s Health President, Ben Koppelman, said in a news release.

“Collaborative efforts were key in making this project possible. We are committed to continuing to help thousands of people get the care they need.”

The CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Dental Clinic collaborated with the Hubbard County Developmental Achievement Center to display original artwork in the patient waiting area, and looks forward to working with other local artisans to offer traveling art venues.


In September, the dental clinic welcomed Dr. Dan Eckmann and Dr. Jennifer Eckmann, DDS. The husband and wife team bring years of experience to the community.

“This is a great example of organizations working together to create a long-term benefit for the community, “ said Sonja Day, the Foundation Director at CHI St. Joseph’s Health.

CHI St. Joseph’s Health will not be hosting a grand opening for the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a virtual tour of the new clinic will be available soon at

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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