Friday, April 5, 2013
Helping Hands of Georgetown, a nonprofit that helps people in need, is now operating an emergency dental clinic, thanks to 20 local dentists, other volunteers and area businesses and civic groups.
The clinic is now providing extractions on Thursdays for uninsured Georgetown County residents who meet income requirements.
The clinic opens each Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and extractions begin by 5:30 p.m.
It is first-come, first-served, and currently serves up to six people each Thursday.
No appointments are necessary, but patients need to bring the following items: photo identification, proof of income (Social Security statement, check stub, etc.), a list of monthly expenses, your physician’s contact information, and a list of current medications. Registration and extraction take several hours.
The Helping Hands Emergency Dental Clinic Steering Committee includes Sharon Thomas, Helping Hands executive director, Dr. E. Benton DuBose, Lauren Hensley, dental technician, Dick Rose, Rose Family Fund, Dr. Nicholas Papadea and Dick Schwab, Helping Hands board chair.
“Our research told us there was an issue with dental decay for people in poverty but seeing it first hand has been an eye-opening experience,” Thomas said.
“Watching people come in in pain and leave with smiles on their faces is very heartwarming.”
Schwab said the clinic is operating because of the generosity of 20 dentists and several dental technicians who are volunteering their time.
“We are very blessed with the outpouring of dentists who are willing to give up one evening every few months, leaving family, and sometimes their practice early to come in to Helping Hands to work,” Schwab said.
He added that in the eight weeks the clinic has been open, more than 100 teeth have been pulled because many patients have two or more teeth in need of removal.
Schwab said each Thursday dental assistant Lauren Hensley, a volunteer with the clinic, admits the first eight people in line.
Six people of that group will get teeth extracted and two are on stand-by in case any of the first six are turned away because of paperwork or medication problems.
He said this clinic is very necessary in Georgetown County because many low-income people are forced to put off dental care.
“My observation is that if you’re at poverty level, you are worried about food, clothing and shelter, and medical care is probably a fourth concern,” he said.
“Dental care on down line from that. If it comes down to paying for a dentist and feeding your children, you are going to feed your children.”
The Murrells Inlet Elks Lodge helped make the dental clinic possible by writing and receiving a grant for $10,000 through the National Elks Foundation to help with start up costs for the clinic.
Richard Hessel, Bill Carman, Sally Arnet and David Chacon were on the committee that worked on the grant.
Hessel said the group was looking for a grant writing opportunity and the Helping Hands dental clinic was the perfect choice.
“We put our heads together and made it work,” Hessel said.
“None of us had written a grant before, but we were approved the first time.”
He said helping people is what the Elks are all about.
“If everyone did something for somebody every day on a regular basis the world would be a better place,” Hessel said.
For more information, visit www.helpinghandsofgeorgetown.org, call 843-527-3424, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Clayton Stairs