By ED HOWELL
Daily Mountain Eagle
Jasper’s First Baptist Church is hosting a large trailer that will bring free dental services to area residents in a three-day event this week — while one …
By ED HOWELL
Daily Mountain Eagle
Jasper’s First Baptist Church is hosting a large trailer that will bring free dental services to area residents in a three-day event this week — while one local organizer said officials are hoping to make this a more regular service to the needy.
Matt Lotspeich, the pastor of education and evangelism at the church, said the North American Mission Board (NAMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention will be bringing in its Send Relief Mobile Dental Clinic on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
The state-of-the-art trailers are used in connection with local medical personnel, events and churches to minister to local communities, according to Kevin Ezell, president of the NAMB in a video on the organization’s website. The NAMB also has a mobile unit for other medical treatment that can be offered as a ministry, although only the dental mobile unit will be on hand this week in Jasper.
Lotspeich said the event will team up with three local dentists — Dr. Jim Cox, Dr. Amanda Darty and Dr. Ron Brown — who will be seeing patients.
The first day, Thursday, will be the screening day to determine what can be done with patients, as serious needs will be addressed.
“It is for acute dental pain. That is the aim,” Lotspeich said.
Retired Jasper dentist Buddy Thorne, who practiced for 48 years in the field, said Monday he would be doing the screening Thursday.
“What I’m going to be looking for first is pain in children, and then pain overall,” he said. “Then I am going to be looking at children to put sealants on. Sealants are a preventative measure to keep the children from getting any decay. They will reduce cavities by 75 percent.”
Thorne, who has been a member of First Baptist since 1961, said among procedures that will not be performed are those for crowns, bridges, implants and dentures. Some cleaning may be allowed on children.
“To tell you the truth, we’re going to make some mistakes on this thing, because this is the first time we’ve done it,” he said.
Once the patients are screened, they will be given appointments for one of the next two days, Lotspeich said.
“Our church will be helping out with volunteers,” he said. “There is actually six different stations you go through. We’ll have a welcome desk and help people fill out forms. We’ll get to talk to people, get to know them and be a friend to them.”
The church “has had more people than we could use to donate their time to help out with this,” Thorne said. “We’ve just been swallowed up by people who said they will help.” He said volunteers who once helped with dental needs at the former Hope Clinic have also offered to help.
Thorne said dentists in the area are willing to donate their time, and discussions have been held about doing this maybe once a quarter “to try to get to the people who fall between the cracks with insurance.” He said they are working to try to bring back the NAMB mobile unit regularly.
“This will not be a one-time deal,” he said.
Some medical personnel don’t see Medicaid patients, he said, explaining many of those patients don’t show up, wrecking havoc on the appointment books, and many don’t ever pay what is asked for, he said. However, he said many dentists would overlook the payment problem, as some medical professionals see Medicaid patients as a matter of just “donating their time.”
He said many of those patients don’t have the insurance or funds to pay.
“Just basic dental work can be pretty expensive,” he said. “Some people have fallen between the cracks and don’t have any help. It is up to people who have sworn an oath that they will take care of people. It is up to us to look after people who don’t have the wherewithal to handle all these needs.”
Lotspeich saw the opportunity as a ministry to local people.
“We just saw this event as a way to help people in this community who have a hard time getting dental care because they can’t afford it,” Lotspeich said. “We look in Scripture at how many times Jesus helped people with physical ailments and healed them.
“It is a way to point to the fact He is a loving Savior and did those miracles to point to the fact he is the Messiah. So we want to just help people out with the needs they have just to point to Christ and everything He has done for us. We just want to serve our community.”
Anyone wanting more information can call 205-221-6444.