DODGE CITY, Kansas — The Kansas Mission of Mercy came to Dodge City on Friday to offer free dental care to Kansans.
The problem for many Kansans at the clinic wasn’t finding a dentist, it was affording one.
“I lost my job due to an infection in my teeth that spread to my whole body,” said Joleen Mantei who came from Wichita to go to the clinic.
Volunteers and 120 dentists from all over the state offered their services Friday.
“Most of these dentists here, we live pretty well,” said dentist Keith Grigsby. “So you know it’s a good way to give back and well worth the time.”
“You can’t beat your free dentist, even if you have to wait all night in the cold,” said Lisa Duncan, who was already waiting in line for Saturday’s clinic.
There were so many people interested in the free clinic that after 600 people came through the doors the Mission of Mercy had to turn people away, telling them to come back tomorrow.
“We were here at 5 AM or 4:45 and we actually got turned down,” said Sara Duncan.
While they want to help everyone, the clinic has to keep quality of service in mind.
“We wanna do the very best we can for everyone that comes through the door,” said Executive Director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation. “We hope that everyone that comes out we’re going to be able to treat.”
Even with a long wait ahead of them, patients were in good spirits.
“I really appreciate it and I’m thankful for the people who volunteered to come out here,” said Dodge City resident Russell McCormack who needed teeth pulled and cavities filled.
“It’s a long process, but it’s worth it,” said Sandra Giannino while she and her husband waited to be seen.
Irma Ranton was at the event for the second year in a row, “I’m happy to wait,” she said.
Mantei said she’ll be able to go back to work after she has her dental work done, “It’s worth it, for my family, for my future, for my job.”
Volunteers will be back again Saturday morning around 4 to offer one more day of care.
Hill said by the end of the clinic, dentists will have provided about one million dollars worth of free care.