ROCKLAND, Maine — The need for dental services for low-income residents is overwhelming, said Meredith Batley who is the executive director of the Knox County Health Clinic.
But a group of local dentists took a big bite out of that need earlier this month.
The dental care doctors and hygienists came together on their own to conduct the first Dentists with a Heart program last year and held the second one on Feb. 3. The group patterned it after similar efforts in Portland and Lewiston-Auburn, Batley said.
By the end of the day, more than 100 people had dental work performed by the all-volunteer group.
Batley said there is great need for the services.
“It’s overwhelming. We had 200 patients on the waiting list. There is a significant need,” Batley said.
The Knox County Health Clinic has a dental program that provides examinations, cleanings and X-rays by a dental hygienist. There is limited access to the volunteer dentists, she said. The program also provides dentures for a limited number of people.
“The program is for people who are looking to get a job. It’s hard to get a service job, for example, without a smile,” she said.
The all-day Dentists with a Heart program was aimed at cutting into that waiting list.
The doctors who stepped forward Feb. 3 for the Dentists with a Heart program were Drs. Brian Brunacini of Falmouth, Catherine Bunin-Stevenson of Wiscasset, Amy Campbell of Rockport, Robert Day of Camden, Deborah Endl of Rockport, Jennifer Fultz of Bucksport, Jonathan Goss of Rockport, Michael Hersom of Rockport, Jeffrey Jordan of Thomaston, Scott Kingsley of Thomaston, Norman Medina of Camden, David Pier of Rockport, Gregory Sarka of Bath, Lawrence Singer of Camden, David Theriault of Rockland, Randy Thivierge of Rockport, and Edward Zanca of Rockport.
The Knox County Health Clinic opened in 1999 and has expanded over the years to include prescription assistance, dental and mental health and wellness services. Dr. Paul Klainer, a retired doctor, is the founder and chairman of the board of directors.
The service is available based on financial need.
A single person, for example, who earns less than $1,815 a month, or $21,780 annually, would be eligible for services. A person with a family of four would qualify if the monthly income was no more than $3,725.
Batley said that emergency care is not provided by the clinic, which emphasizes chronic disease management and wellness program. For instance, its mental health services include acupuncture and stress reliever sessions.
Appointments are needed for most services. For information, the health clinic can be contacted at 594-6996. The clinic’s website is knoxclinic.org.