BAKER — The local free mobile dental clinic is soon. The event provides fillings and extractions to people in need.
It begins with a screening day 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 18 at the Baker Area Recreation Center, 5503 Highway 4, Baker. Clients who qualify will be booked for appointments the week of May 21-25 at the center.
Those who apply for dental treatment must be six or older, be part of a family at or below the 200 percent poverty guideline, and do not have dental insurance coverage. Childcare will not be available during the screening and clinic.
Mary Ann Henley, clinic project director, and her husband, Royce, are Baker Lions Club members. She discussed how the clinic came into being and what attendees can expect.
"'We serve.' That's our motto, and we try to reach out in the community and do as many helpful projects as we can, so that we can minister to and help other people.
"Royce made a mention at a club meeting that this was a project that maybe we could look into," she said.
The group contacted the Baker Area Ministerial Association and Okaloosa Baptist Association for help. They contacted the Florida Baptist Convention and arranged to start the clinics in 2012.
"The mobile dental unit is furnished and stocked by the Florida Baptist Convention. They take care of all of those expenses of the unit. And we just are scheduled once a year ... and host the clinic here. They bring the unit to Baker, we set up at the pavilion at the Baker rec center, and then our patients come there."
Nurses will gather medical information from each patient to maintain a safe environment for the dental care to be performed, Henley said.
Volunteers fellowship with attendees at the event, and attendees receive a gift bag with dental products and donated complete Bibles. Snacks and water will be available during their appointments.
As director, Mary Ann reaches out to dentists and organizations all across Northwest Florida, including Eglin Air Force Base, to provide two dentists per day May 21-25 for the mobile unit's two chairs.
The convention provides a designated driver, a worker that does all the autoclaving for the appointments, and all the supplies dentists need to do the extractions and fillings.
Royce said the most important part for him consists of "getting the bus from south Florida ...brought to Baker, put in place, and set up. And then during the week, I have other people besides just myself."
At that point, the group of more than 30 members provide support for the patients getting dental work done, and the dentists and crew.
He said they do whatever's necessary so as not to impede the people doing the work.
Contact Mary Ann Henley, 865-3144, for additional information.