Keith Phillips, DDS
While watching a soccer match last summer, Dr. David Hinson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky., and Dr. Clark Cash, a local orthodontist, talked about the tremendous dental and medical needs of people in the Frankfort area. That discussion led to the creation of Mission Frankfort Clinic.
Don Grammer, of Nashville Dental, Inc., donated his time and talents to survey a space on the third floor of the First Baptist Church. He then supervised the renovation and construction of a new dental and medical facility.
The clinic operates in conjunction with the Franklin County Health Department, which serves as the entry point for most patients into the clinics. The clinic provides financial and clinical screening, appointment-scheduling, and a translator to assist in serving the needs of the large Hispanic population in the Franklin County area.
Grammer helped the church purchase several necessary items: a new vacuum, an air compressor, an X-ray unit, and state-of-the-art sterilization equipment. He also was instrumental in arranging the donation of suitable chairs, lights, and delivery units from local dentists. Unfortunately, the used dental units required a great deal of repair and one has yet to be installed. To date, the church has invested approximately $80,000 in renovations and equipment, and it continues to bear the weight of the financial obligations of operating the free clinic. Efforts are underway to secure additional funding from other religious organizations. The church had considered funding from state and governmental agencies, but decided against this line of funding to avoid the bureaucratic restrictions that often come attached to government money.
Many companies, groups, and individuals have rallied for the cause. Colgate has agreed to donate 50 tubes of toothpaste and toothbrushes each month. Kentucky State University donated what first appeared to be an outdated dental cabinet; however, when local dentist and clinic volunteer Dr. Stephanie Roney went to clean the cabinet, she found several thousand dollars worth of badly needed surgical instruments inside!
The clinic began treating patients last September. Under the direction of Keith Felton, youth director and mission outreach director, numerous volunteers have been organized to assist with reception and paperwork. Felton is present for every clinic session and makes sure patients receive appropriate information and materials. Several hygienists, dentists, and dental assistants have committed to volunteer at the clinic.
In early December, clinic directors met with Dr. Jim Cecil, a faculty member at the University of Kentucky and director of the state's Oral Health Program. Dr. Cecil has arranged for university residents to attend the clinic during summer sessions. Expectations are that the residents will be able to provide services to patients under the supervision of adjunct faculty from the dental school in the near future.
The health department currently has 75 patients who have been screened and are ready for treatment. Church members and area dentists hope to keep the clinic open half a day per week and look forward to expanding their services to a wider population of patients.
Dr. Keith Phillips maintains a private practice in Winston-Salem, N.C. He is president and founder of The Giving Hand Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to the start-up and development of free medical and dental clinics. Dr. Phillips also serves as a teaching associate at the L.D. Pankey Institute and is on the faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.