Shenandoah health clinic to provide free dental care to veterans

The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic will be offering free dental care to veterans during three Fridays in November.

Pam Murphy, executive director for the free clinic, said that she decided to move forward with these plans when Valley Health said it would pay a dentist to offer services at the clinic.

“We’ve known for a while that there was a gap for veterans because the Veterans Administration doesn’t usually cover dental services for veterans,” Murphy said. “And when Valley Health was kind enough to sponsor more dental services, we thought this would be just a great opportunity given that Veterans Day is in November for us to be able to offer some free services for veterans.”

This is the first time that the Shenandoah Community Health Clinic has offered this program, Murphy said, because of the high cost of providing dental care. Murphy said that it costs the clinic around $150 for each visit, on top of the costs of purchasing equipment.

The clinic typically charges uninsured patients $35 for a visit.

The Shenandoah Community Health Clinic is ordinarily only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays but will be open for five hours on Nov. 3, Nov. 10 and Nov. 17 specifically for the veterans health care program.

Unlike patients who come to the clinic between Tuesday and Thursday, the clinic will not be asking the veterans for proof of income. (The clinic ordinarily provides dental services only to patients whose incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.)

“For the veterans, they’ll show us their veterans ID card and if they have X-rays or whatever, we’ll be able to put those into our system and put their name and basic information in the system and start rolling,” Murphy said.

Murphy said that the clinic will provide care on a “first come, first serve” basis. But she clarified that she wants veterans to book time slots ahead of time.

“By booking time slots for people, we won’t have to have people sitting there all day, waiting to get in,” Murphy said. “But the earlier they call, the more likely it is that we’ll be able to work them in.”

Murphy estimated that the clinic would be able to care for between 20 and 30 veterans on each of the three Fridays. That number could increase, however, if the clinic is able to line up more volunteers who can offer care those days.

“I’ve had another dentist or two that I’m talking with, so we may be able to get even more folks involved,” Murphy said.

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