Free dental clinic coming to Glenwood
Glenwood Springs High School will temporarily become a dental clinic the first weekend in October as part of a massive effort to provide free care to those who need it.
“It’s a no-questions asked clinic,” said Pam Dinkfelt, executive director of Colorado Mission of Mercy, or COMOM. “We want to help individuals who are in dental need.”
COMOM has been setting up free dental clinics for 12 years, but this is their first venture onto the Western Slope.
“When we heard about the magnitude of this event, we were really excited to try and get it to the Western Slope,” said Sherrie Setterberg, the local organizer of the clinic.
Sherrie and Jim Setterberg run a dental clinic in Glenwood Springs, and have done a number of free dental clinics at their practice in which they have seen the need for dental care.
“There is great dental need in our valley, and there’s great disparity of people being able to get dental care,” Setterberg said.
The clinic’s doors will open at 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5. School is not in session that Friday for Roaring Fork Schools, allowing the clinic can take over the entire ground floor of GSHS.
The crews will set up 125 dental chairs, and hope to treat 1,300 patients over the two days.
Each patient will be asked to arrive in the morning. While all are welcome, the clinic will close its doors once it reaches capacity.
The patient will go through a dental health “triage” first, where a volunteer will go over medical history, allergies and other needs. They will then get to see a dentist
There is a wide range of services that the dentists will offer, but some may be limited due to time constraints.
“We do fillings, we do extractions, we do cleanings. On a limited basis we do crowns, flippers, which are the front teeth, and dentures, as time permits. Those take time to do, and we can only do so many,” Dinkfelt said.
Getting to Glenwood
After 12 years setting up clinics along the Front Range, including Brighton, Loveland, Colorado Springs, and as far south as Alamosa, COMOM wanted to do something on the Western Slope.
Glenwood Springs was a good option because of the access to Interstate 70 and relative closeness to specialists around Denver.
“We wanted to go west, but not too far west because we wanted to have access to the dentists on the Front Range,” Dinkfelt said.
Garfield County provided $5,000 to COMOM’s clinic and area businesses also donated to the effort. From Vail to Aspen to Grand Junction, people are stepping up, Setterberg said.
“Overwhelmingly, people are doing what Glenwood does best. They are volunteering their time, services, and food. It’s what we know happens in Glenwood, but it’s pretty cool when you see it happen,” she said.
Call for volunteers
“We expect about 1,000 volunteers, and every one of these volunteers are doing it to help. It’s just a good thing to do,” Dinkfelt said.
The clinic needs dentists, but the program also depends on a host of nonmedical expertise.
“There’s a litany of nonclinical jobs that individuals can work at,” Dinkfelt said.
“We would love it if people could register next week,” in order to have everything in place well before the clinic, Setterberg said.
Those interested in volunteering can learn more at comom.org/volunteer or by calling 720-648-0918.
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