Dr. Colleen Brickle, RDH

March 21, 2012

Colleen Brickle believes everyone-no matter their financial status or whether they have insurance-deserves access to dental care services. In support of that belief, in 2005 she co-founded a community dental health clinic at Normandale Community College in Bloomingdale, Minn.

Colleen Brickle believes everyone-no matter their financial status or whether they have insurance-deserves access to dental care services. In support of that belief, in 2005 she co-founded a community dental health clinic at Normandale Community College in Bloomingdale, Minn.

Last year, the clinic, which is open an average of 8 to 12 hours a week, was visited by more than 600 patients. The clinic is staffed by dentists, dental hygiene students, advanced dental therapy students from Metropolitan State University and new graduates.

Providing much-needed care for the elderly, veterans, displaced workers, and other underserved populations is, “rewarding for all of us involved in the clinic,” said Colleen, who started teaching dental hygiene at Normandale in 1987 and has been Dean of Health Sciences since 2008.

It isn’t easy to recruit, orient and schedule volunteers for the clinic, but it helps the clinic continue to keep its doors open.

“Keeping volunteers coming back assists in meeting patients’ needs and keeping the clinic self-sustaining as it has been for more than six years,” she said.  

Colleen, who is married to husband, Dennis, an elementary school teacher, also was a strong advocate for historic legislation to establish two mid-level dental care providers in her state. Key organizations involved in the effort were the Minnesota Dental Hygienists Association, the Minnesota Safety Net Coalition and Minnesota State Colleges & Universities.

“We stayed true to our belief in access for all and that the end point of our collective advocacy was to promote the health and welfare of the public,” Colleen said.