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Meet Dr. Kris Volcheck of Brighter Way Institute in Phoenix

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Kris Volcheck.

Upon graduating from Dental School in 1985, Dr. Volcheck opened a private dental practice in Globe, AZ. His patients ranged from 0 years to 80+ and he provided comprehensive dentistry to this small, metropolitan community approximately 90 miles east of Phoenix. Once the practice was in full operation, he began work on a Master’s in Business Administration. While attending ASU, he became acquainted with Mary Orton, the founder and then director of Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). Ms. Orton persuaded Dr. Volcheck to volunteer at CASS’ single adult shelter. Following completion of his MBA, he transitioned from a volunteer to a part-time case manager. In 1993, he closed his dental practice and became a full-time case manager.

He quickly immersed himself in the issues surrounding homelessness. During his seven years as a case manager, he witnessed firsthand the devastating effects homelessness can have on an individual’s oral health. In late 1999, he began preparations for the state’s only dental clinic for the homeless. Working in collaboration with the Arizona State Office of Oral Health and the Maricopa County Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic, the CASS Dental Clinic opened to its first patient on Jan 1, 2001. In the first year, 20 volunteer dentists, 15 hygienists, and 20 dental labs provided service in the two-chair dental trailer. Four years later, he completed the design, secured funding, and oversaw relocation of the clinic to an eight-chair facility located on the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix. It is presently one of the largest volunteer-driven dental clinics in the nation, providing comprehensive dental care to homeless veterans, adults and children. There are many hundreds of volunteers and dental students now working at the clinic to serve the oral health needs of the homeless community.

In addition to serving as Dental Director, he frequently provides technical assistance to agencies wishing to establish similar dental programs. He has also presented at the Annual National Healthcare for the Homeless Conference.

On March 1, 2007, he opened the CASS Dental Program for Homeless Children on the Human Services Campus. The Children’s program utilizes the same successful model of dental volunteers and students providing treatment to the homeless children.

In June 2010, with funding from the Bruce and Diane Halle Foundation, he launched the Murphy Kids Dental Clinic. This clinic served 2,200 impoverished children in this elementary school district.

On July 1st, 2014, The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation funded the opening of the Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at the site of the Murphy Kids Dental Clinic. The Bob and Renee Parsons has continued to support the efforts to treat these uninsured children. The Center provides comprehensive care to over 15,000 impoverished, mostly Hispanic children each year.

On March 4th, 2016, in collaboration with Canyon State Academy, the Canyon State Academy Dental Center for Foster Children was opened.

July 1st, 2016, Brighter Way Institute was formed. This new non-profit, with Dr. Volcheck as the CEO, took the 3 clinics that formerly belonged to CASS, and formed an organization that would continue to focus on treating the oral health needs of our underserved communities.

At this time, The Brighter Way Institute is comprised of the Brighter Way Dental Center for Veterans and the Homeless (formerly CASS Dental Clinic), The Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, and the Canyon State Academy for Foster Children.

January, 2017, The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation funded the Brighter Way Dental Center so that it would have the resources to treat the dental needs of Veterans in a more comprehensive manner. This funding gave the Center the much needed resources to focus on the needs of Veterans. This focus on our Veterans, then led to a collaboration with Affordable Dentures and Implants. Brighter Way Institute is now providing implants and implant based dentures to Veterans.

Has it been a smooth road?
The road has been joyous at times, treacherous at times, and sometimes both at the same time.

The struggles have been many. First, I came from private practice into the non-profit world. My learning curve was steep, especially when it came to completely understanding the nuanced issues facing the homeless population. It required a few years of exposure to the homeless, by spending time directly working with them on the street, doing outreach and then as a case manager to gain a comprehensive perspective.

Secondly, there is the ever-present struggle to keep a non-profit funded in a manner that will allow one to sustain and hopefully expand patient care.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Brighter Way Institute story. Tell us more about the business.
Brighter Way Institute specializes in giving comprehensive dental care to the most difficult and most underserved populations such as the Homeless, Veterans, Uninsured children and foster children.

We are most proud to provide oral healthcare in a manner that offers all general dentistry and all specialties under one roof for all of our patients. We feel that the underserved populations should get the ultimate care that they need to ensure their health and well-being.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
The Non-Profit world is becoming much more innovative in its approach to patient/client care. We are forming collaborations with other non-profits and for-profits to give a more integrated and sustainable experience to our patients. This trend will accelerate in the next 5 to 10 years.

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Getting in touch: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Brock Westover DDS MEd

    January 22, 2018 at 3:49 am

    Bravo!!!! I am a Prosthodontist in Mississippi. I used to live in Miami
    29 yrs ago where I Served as part-time teacher /clinic instructor at the Lindsey Hopkins Institute which provided similar services with the addition of Continuing Education to local dentists. It was a wonderful program And it’s time to offer this in Mississippi.
    How do I get started.

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