Community Service

Doctors With a Heart – Traverse City

The “Doctors With a Heart” program was started in Traverse City by our office in 1999. It is a day when we provide free dental care to needy people in our area. Our staff donates their time and work for free.

Several other local offices have since joined the effort, and we are proud to say that thousands of people have been helped over the past several years. It is our pleasure to give back to our community, which has been very good to us through the years.

Scroll down to read more about Doctors With a Heart.

Doctors With a Heart 2013
Article from WPBN TV 7&4 – TV 7&4 Coverage

Doctors With a Heart 2012 

Article from WPBN TV 7&4 – TV 7&4 Coverage

More on Doctors With a Heart

Article from the Thursday, Febuary 11, 1999 Record Eagle

Traverse City dentist Steven Niergarth and assistant Carrie Skurnit work on a patient Wednesday as a part of the Doctors With a Heart program that donates a day of free health care. "We served over 60 people today," office manager Angela Purdy said.

"Unfortunately, we had to turn away almost as many people because we didn't have the time or the volunteers to help everybody." She said one gentleman waited in his car all night at the dentist's office and many people were in lines for hours before the office opened. "We had 100 people come through to register in the first hour," Purdy said. Niergarth was the only dentist in the state to participate in the one-day charity event.

TC dentist to offer free services to public
Record-Eagle staff writer

TRAVERSE CITY – A local dentist will offer some sorely-needed dental care free of charge Wednesday.

Deerhaven Family Dentistry, the practice of Dr. Steven Niergarth, will offer the free services from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a first-come, first­served basis, with priority given to children.

Cleanings, fillings, extractions, x­rays, fluoride treatments anything that can be done in a day will be offered as part of Deerhaven's participation in Doctors With A Heart. The national charity aims to provide medical services to those without insurance, money, or means of obtaining care.

"We're just trying to address peopIe's worst problems, try and get them out of pain, and kids, get them started on a preventive plan." said Niergarth, who has practiced in Traverse City for 14 years.

That's exactly how long ago an Iowa dentist started Doctors With A Heart. Today, the organization estimates more than 15,000 doctors from various disciplines and their staffs participate by donating a day of service to those who need it.

Participants are encouraged to schedule their event near Valentine's Day. Niergarth is the only Michigan doctor participating this year. His staff will work unpaid that day.

"I feel like I've been very blessed and fortunate. The community has treated me real well, and it was something that my staff and I could do to pay things back," Niergarth said. "There's definitely a need out there."

Most dentists do not take Medicaid patients because the rate of reimbursement is so low.

The Grand Traverse County Department's dental clinic, which' served Medicaid recipients, lost its dentist at the end of January. The clinic is closed temporarily, and hopes to have a new dentist by May.

Staff member Angela Purdy, who 35 and 40 patients per day. With organized Wednesday's event, said she hopes Deerhaven will become a kind Pied Piper practice.

"We want to give the other doctors and dentists a feel for what kind of need we have here." Purdy said. "If everybody did it one day a year, maybe we could soak up some of that need."

People seeking services will be asked their names and a brief health history, but information about their income or insurance situation will not be requested.

"We're basically putting people on their honor, if they feel they need the free dental work," Niergarth said.

The office has put out the word to organizations like the Women's Resource Center and the Father Fred Foundation to solicit patients.

The office typically sees between 35 and 40 patients per day. With him, two hygienists and three dental assistants working, Niergarth hopes they can see even more Wednesday.

Deerhaven Family Dentistry is located at 5217 N. Royal Drive, off Cedar Run Road. Call 929-3606.