The Connecticut Mission of Mercy will host a free dental clinic Saturday and Sunday at Wilby High School in Waterbury. Doors open at 6 a.m., but in past years those seeking free dental care have started lining up as early as 3 a.m.
Since starting the two-day clinics three years ago, Dr. Jonathan Knapp and his colleagues have witnessed some disturbing and promising trends.
The disturbing trend is the growing number of people who have come to rely on the clinics.
“It’s become a dental home for them because they have no where else to go,” Dr. Robert Schreibman said last year at the event in Middletown. A portion of the patients at last year’s event in Middletown were also at the clinics it held in Tolland or New Haven.
“This is an intermediate place, but it isn’t a solution,” Schreibman said.
The economy is a big piece of what is happening at the clinics.
“There are still 1 million adults in the state which don’t receive dental care,” Schreibman said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed cutting the amount of non-emergency dental care Medicaid recipients receive by $20 million over the next two years.
Despite the cuts, Knapp said at a press conference in March that it could be worse.
“I think given the budget circumstances and the financial times that we find ourselves in, the fact that it was able to be maintained is great,” he said, adding, “I think as times improve and things get better we’d certainly like to have them brought back to where they were and in fact even enhanced beyond that.”
But Knapp said he recognized the risk of non-emergency dental care for adults on Medicaid being eliminated from the budget entirely and said the group was very pleased it remains. It’s important that the oral health of adults is addressed as well that of children, he said.
Click here to read last year’s coverage of the clinic.
Doors open at 6 a.m. at Wilby High School, 460 Bucks Hill Road, Waterbury. Patients will be seen on a first come, first serve basis and the doors will stay open until all are served. The free clinic runs both Saturday and Sunday.