News Highlights: Mobile dental clinic rolls through Shelby.
More than two dozen smiles received a free upgrade at Shelby Saturday thanks to North Carolina Baptists on Mission’s Mobile Dental Ministry.
The rolling dental clinic, staffed by dentists, assistants and hygienists from multiple health care providers in Gaston and Cleveland counties, settled in the Pleasant City Church parking lot on County Home Road for the second year in a row.
It’s a one-day effort designed to extend much-needed and sometimes long-delayed dental care to Cleveland County’s uninsured, poor, and migrant population.
Shelby’s Ashley Hendrick was one of about 30 patients who boarded the generator-powered bus and into the mobile dental chair on Saturday. She said dental insurance is too expensive to squeeze into her monthly budget, but took the opportunity to complete a trio of fillings on Saturday that will hopefully bring more expensive or painful procedures down the road.
Hendrick is not one who is naturally afraid of dental work, but said she was immediately reassured by Dr. Stephen Baker of Kings Mountain’s Baker Dental Care.
“That gentleman is great,” Hendrick said of Baker. “He put me at ease and I was in and out within 30 minutes. It means a lot to me because it is a sign that people are willing to give for themselves and that people still care about others in this community. ”
Pleasant City Church may be an ideal location for these types of clinics. It’s centrally located, the parking lot and facilities can handle traffic, and the council is willing to support missions abroad and here at home, said Associate Pastor Jonathan Glisson.
“Our primary focus as a church is to simply live and show the love of Christ,” said Glisson. “That means we want to be a ray of light in our community and take opportunities like this to reach people.”
Glisson spent most of his life as a member of Pleasant City before following in his father’s footsteps and entering the ministry.
He said the church that stepped the site for the mobile dental clinic in 2020 at the behest of Jennifer McSwain, a licensed dental assistant at Baker Dental.
“She has really been one of the driving forces behind this, in organizing this,” said Glisson. “She has been pivotal in making this happen.”
Julie Dolinger, the mobile dental ministry coordinator for Baptists on Mission in North Carolina, said Saturday’s clinic is typical of the organization’s efforts statewide. The mission has invested in two mobile dental surgeries and a health screening setup that works with churches and dentists across North Carolina.
Before the arrival of COVID-19 last year, all three buses ran weekly from their home base in Cary, serving as many as 48 patients in one day, ranging west to Haywood County and Waynesville and some of the smaller coastal areas of the state. communities.
Dolinger said the mobile clinics come with everything needed to provide routine dental care, such as extractions and fillings, but the support of churches and dentists in the communities they serve is vital.
Churches usually provide a central site to serve the clinics and help pay some of the treatment costs by paying for some of the travel fuel and running a generator if necessary and $ 8 per patient to offset the material costs.
Dentists like Dr. Baker give their time and expertise, but volunteers like McSwain and those from Pleasant City are also essential, especially to spread the word that the clinics are rolling into town.
Dental practices from Belmont, Gastonia, Kings Mountain and Shelby joined this year’s efforts, including Cornerstone Dental Associates, Baker Dental Care, Hounshell Family Dentistry, Carolinas Dental Health and South Point Family Dentistry.
“When you connect with someone like Jennifer who works in the field, they’re really good at planning and getting people here so we can serve as many people as possible,” said Dolinger. “That’s a very important part of this.”
Like seemingly every other aspect of society, Dolinger said the operations of the mobile clinics have been affected by COVID-19. Now that physical attendance is limited in many churches statewide, there are fewer sites open to host the clinics, and fewer patients are guided through the clinics.
The Shelby site worked with 48 patients in early 2020, compared to just over 30 this year.
For Maynard Ledford of Pleasant City, events like the Saturday clinic really make a difference in both the community and the church. He has been a member of Pleasant City for nearly 60 years.
“This is all,” said Ledford. “This is how you can make a difference, how you can make this place feel like family. This is how you reach people. ”
Reach Adam Orr at 704-869-1828 or [email protected]