Ten years ago, with 500 people on a waiting list, a newly built and equipped Dental Clinic at the Northern Neck Free Health Clinic (NNFHC) opened its doors to its first patients.
Ten years later, 4,722 individuals have used the Dental Clinic, visiting 27,172 times and receiving $16,658,348 worth of dental services, according to NNFHC Executive Director Jean Nelson. They are all ages, from children receiving their first check-up to seniors in need of dentures, she said; NNFHC Medical Clinic patients and others who are low-income and underinsured are served. Some had never been to a dentist at all.
The Dental Clinic was made possible after the NNFHC moved into its current building in Kilmarnock in 2003. Space in the new facility was allotted for a Dental Clinic, but funds were needed to equip it and to pay for operations, Nelson said. A $200,000 capital improvement campaign was launched to outfit six work stations, while an agreement was formalized with the VCU School of Dentistry to have teams of final-year dental students rotate through the new facility to work with staff and volunteer dentists. First-year funding came through the Nettie Lokey Wiley Foundation, the Virginia Health Care Foundation (VHCF), individual donors and other groups. The Dental Clinic’s first patients were seen on January 15, 2004.