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Archive for Friday, September 19, 2008

Free dental clinic draws early, eager crowd

Kevin Plummer opens up wide for Dr. Galen Van Blaricum, who fills a cavity at the Free Dental Day at the Douglas County Dental Clinic.  The Douglas County Dental Clinic and Health Care Access Clinic teamed up on Friday morning to provide free dental services to the first 60 uninsured people in line at 316 Maine.

Kevin Plummer opens up wide for Dr. Galen Van Blaricum, who fills a cavity at the Free Dental Day at the Douglas County Dental Clinic. The Douglas County Dental Clinic and Health Care Access Clinic teamed up on Friday morning to provide free dental services to the first 60 uninsured people in line at 316 Maine.

September 19, 2008, 11:23 a.m. Updated September 19, 2008, 5:30 p.m.

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Free dental clinic draws early, eager crowd

It was an early morning for those in search of free care at the Douglas County Dental Clinic. The line began forming at 4:00 a.m. Enlarge video

Dr. Galen Van Blaricum fills a cavity inside Kevin Plummer's mouth at the Free Dental Day at the Douglas County Dental Clinic. The Douglas County Dental Clinic and Health Care Access Clinic teamed up on Friday morning to provide free dental services to the first 60 uninsured people in line at 316 Maine.

Dr. Galen Van Blaricum fills a cavity inside Kevin Plummer's mouth at the Free Dental Day at the Douglas County Dental Clinic. The Douglas County Dental Clinic and Health Care Access Clinic teamed up on Friday morning to provide free dental services to the first 60 uninsured people in line at 316 Maine.

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How often do you go to the dentist?

Twice a year, every six months. That’s the schedule my dentist recommends. I had a lot of dental problems when I was young, and I don’t want to repeat them.

More responses

Free dental care.

That's all it took for a line to begin forming at 4 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of the Douglas County Dental Clinic, 316 Maine.

A team of dentists, hygienists and support staff volunteered to provide free care to the first 60 uninsured people who showed up. By 8 a.m., those slots were filled. About 25 people had been turned away by 9 a.m., and more were throughout the day.

"Dental insurance is very expensive, and a lot of people just can't afford to purchase it, and a lot of people who even have dental insurance have a hard time with the co-pays, deductibles and such," said Julie Branstrom, executive director of the clinic. "It's really tough when it comes down to whether or not you can put food on your table or whether you can spend a little bit of money to go see the dentist and have a checkup."

That's exactly what Darren Hadl, of Lawrence, has to decide. He's a self-employed carpenter, and the housing market downturn in Lawrence has affected his bottom line.

"You have to prioritize. It's either you eat or get your teeth fixed, and my teeth aren't in bad enough shape that I can't eat," Hadl said.

He considered the free dental clinic a late birthday present - he turned 42 on Tuesday.

"It was karma," he said.

Lawrence resident Ryan Shaughnessy, 23, is a student at Johnson County Community College and hasn't had dental or health insurance since he turned 18. While most people dread going to the dentist, he was excited about getting his teeth taken care of.

"It's wonderful," Shaughnessy said just before getting four cavities filled. "I know tons of people without insurance.

In fact, he said his girlfriend, who just became a teacher, won't have insurance until next month.

Shaughnessy found out about the dental clinic through Health Care Access, which provides health care for low-income and uninsured residents. It teamed up with Douglas County Dental Clinic to sponsor the first dental clinic in Lawrence.

Branstrom said they hope to make it an annual event, but finding the necessary volunteers is key. Friday's event involved about 50 people, including about a dozen dentists and hygientists. They completed 60 examinations, 51 fillings, two root canals, 16 extractions and six cleanings. The value of the care was estimated at $14,578.

Dr. John Hay, who has been practicing in downtown Lawrence for 21 years, said his help at the free clinic paled in comparison to what the Douglas County Dental Clinic provides on a daily basis.

"There's a lot of hard-working volunteers and a lot of people who do this on a daily basis," he said.

He said the free clinic just pointed out the health care issues that Americans face.

"The reality is, this is what it is like every day, and health care in America increasingly has more and more people who don't have access to care, and we have a long way to go still to effect good change," he said.

Comments

RedwoodCoast 6 years, 2 months ago

Tom: "Republicans are actually more charitable than Democrast, in case you didn't know."Wow, the Republicans are redefining themselves by the minute. Now they're for regulation, 'change' (which is most hilarious), and social welfare????????? What planet did I wake up on?

Sigmund 6 years, 2 months ago

Shardwurm (Anonymous) says: "Notice the part about 'all the slots were filled by 8am'? If any of you have ever served in the military you know what 'social medicine' is like - long lines, sub-standard facilities, and caregivers there because they couldn't get to med school without joining the military.Ever been to the VA?"I have nothing to add here, just thought it made such a good point it deserved to be made again. Besides if all the healthy teens and twenty somethings want to pay for all the baby boomers skyrocketing health costs (old age is really expensive and Americans average age is getting older and older) before they begin savings for their own homes or wasting money on dates and gas and stuff, let them. Be careful of the change you hope for, you just might get it!

Raymond Munoz 6 years, 3 months ago

Thank you to the LJWorld and 6 News for providing coverage of this event!

1029 6 years, 3 months ago

I imagine Republicans aren't too happy about this. Helping people? For free?

Chris Ogle 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to all who helped with this much needed service. It is so refreshing to read something positive. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1By the way hawkperched.... humor is good too, but when your teeth are on the kitchen table where you left them, I am sorry to tell you that you went to the wrong place. .

Chris Ogle 6 years, 2 months ago

hey hawkperched, I usually put my false teeth in the dish washer, but I got confused a while back and they ended up in the clothes washer...... that worked too. Too bad I chipped a tooth when I was unloading.... oh well.... I applied for a bail-out., that seems to work for everybody else!

JewlLi 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks to all who helped to make this event happen. There were MANY people involoved in this event and every person's contributions are valued and appreciated.

Shardwurm 6 years, 2 months ago

I'm with Tom.Notice the part about 'all the slots were filled by 8am'?If any of you have ever served in the military you know what 'social medicine' is like - long lines, sub-standard facilities, and caregivers there because they couldn't get to med school without joining the military.Ever been to the VA? The only people who want 'free' cough healthcare seem to be people incapable of providing for themselves anyway."If you're not a liberal when you're 20 you have no heart. If you're not conservative when you're 40 you have no brains." - Churchill

Alison Roberts 6 years, 2 months ago

I dont think this necessarily needs to be turned into a political issue.I think its a great thing that all these volunteers did for people in our community. Of course, I wish they could have seen more than 60 people, but its better than none! i would hope that someone in the community would step up and get some funding to do this more that once a year or at least make it so more people could participate.

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