The need for free and charitable dental clinics is not going to disappear as a result of Obama health care reform. Mostly because Obamacare will likely fail. But that’s an opinion and one better argued in another discussion. If you accept the premise, then there is some information that you or someone you know may find valuable information I would like to pass along.
According to the Georgia Free Clinic Network located in Atlanta (678-553-4939) there are 104 free/charity clinics serving Georgia patients. The network offers health care to the uninsured at no costs to the taxpayers of this State. GFCN provides a safety net that fills the gaps in our taxpayer-funded system of health care, including oral health care. One of the local Atlanta clinics, and I have no idea whether or not it is associated with GFCN, is the Ben Massell Dental Clinic which has local dentists from around metro Atlanta staff and treat indigent patients.
The GFCN is a statewide association of free and charitable medical and dental clinics which vary in size and scope of services are each uniquely dedicated to serving many of Georgia’s more than 1.7 million uninsured population. Like the Massell Clinic, these facilities are staffed in part by volunteers, operated by non-profit organizations that reach out to their communities with an unwavering commitment to our local population’s underserved needs.
The GFCN’s focus is fourfold: 1) Unifying clinics serving Georgia’s uninsured through advocacy, technical assistance and collective purchasing; 2) Development, implementation and replication of data gathering resources regarding the uninsured; 3) Strengthening the infrastructure to serve GFCN membership; and 4) Assisting in the development of services in areas of highest unmet need.[i]
In 2009, GFCN clinics served 200,000 patients, approximately 11% of Georgia’s uninsured. According to the Georgia State Auditor, these clinics provide $200 to $400 million of care. To their, credit, for every $1 invested in a free clinic, $9 worth of services can be provided. Less I digress for a moment, show me a government program that provides that kind of bang for the buck. As a phenomenal result of so many volunteers, the uninsured in 90 of Georgia’s 159 counties have access to a charity/free clinic. Fifty-seven percent of the patients seen in Georgia clinics are female. Most patients are employed, sometimes holding more than one job. And at an average clinic, the percentage of patients who are: White-40%; African-American-41%; Latino-16%.[ii]
At the public sector level, there is the Georgia Department of Community Health (Atlanta, 404-657-6639), of which its Oral Health Unit was created to prevent oral disease among Georgia’s children through education, prevention and early treatment. According to the Oral Health Unit they play a vital role in improving the quality of life for all the children of Georgia, and in eliminating health disparities. Oral Health Unit programs focus on preventing, controlling and reducing oral diseases and conditions in all of Georgia’s underserved populations.
So there really is no reason why you shouldn’t see a dentist if you are uninsured, under insured or unemployed. Please take the time to lead someone in need in the right direction. And as always if we can be of help please feel free to contact our office for oral health needs. Dr. Scheinfeld’s Center is dedicated to exceptional dentistry that’s right for you.
Serving Sandy Springs, Roswell, Buckhead, East Cobb, Dunwoody, Alpharetta, Johns Creek.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
5471 Bells Ferry Road, Suite 200
Acworth, GA 30102
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