HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Healthcare is expensive and thousands of Huntsville neighbors can’t afford medical or dental appointments.
One nonprofit spent the last 8 years serving the underserved and Wednesday, they brought Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong on a tour of the facility, along with News 19.
As Dr. Otha Solomon says, dental disease can be life-threatening so keeping up with dental health is important: “Your oral health is a picture of your overall health.”
Dr. Solomon is president of the Community Free Dental Clinic in Madison County. It provides free services to those who can’t afford dental care. Around 46,000 people in the area are eligible for the services.
“We want to bridge the gap and provide comprehensive care for those that have never been able to receive it,” said Julia Nabors, the Executive Director of the Free Dental Clinic.
This is the only free dental clinic in Madison County and they’ve served over 8,600 patients since being opened back in 2013.
Because the majority of patients at the clinic cannot afford dental care, they struggle with being able to pay for medical appointments as well. This is where volunteer nurses come in.
“Well we don’t want just to pull teeth,” said Eugenia Graves, a volunteer nurse. “We want to take care of the whole person.”
She says they do assessments and find many who have diabetes or hypertension that is not well-controlled. They then give information on how to better take care of themselves. This is in addition to the free services.
“We offer extractions for those that are hurting to try to prevent extensive, expensive hospital stays,” said Nabors. “We also offer fillings, cleanings, oral cancer screenings.”
They continued all the services, even during difficult times.
“When the pandemic came around, a lot of these dentists decided to retire,” said Dr. Solomon. “Our volunteer base diminished around 50 percent.”
The Free Dental Clinic has seen a drop in volunteers and funds. Now, they’re in need of help from the community to provide help to the community.
Dr. Solomon says the operational budget each year is around $270,000 a year. With the cost of everything rising right now, they need as much help as they can get.
To inquire about how to volunteer or donate, call (256) 489-1853 or visit their website.