The Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center was transformed into a free dental clinic Friday and Saturday, providing care to over 100 mostly low-income residents.

The Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center was transformed into a free dental clinic Friday and Saturday, providing care to over 100 mostly low-income residents.

This is the second year that the Pankey Institute‘s Dental Access Days has come to the area. Last year over 100 patients received over $100,000 of care in the fellowship hall of Northfield Community Church. The clinic was moved to Evanston to make it more accessible to people who need it.

There is no needs requirement for the clinic. Sixteen agencies in the area were given 25 vouchers each to distribute to individuals and families in need of dental care. Patients are treated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bridget Harris, who distributed vouchers through a soup kitchen called A Just Harvest, says the clinic makes a big difference. Last year she distributed vouchers and helped arrange transportation to Northbrook. Last year she became a patient herself. “Two days before the clinic, I developed an absess,” she says, “and they treated me, too.”

Having the clinic in Evanston makes it easier for patients, “because there’s public transportation.” She came along to support her clients, watching the children while mom or dad was in the dental chair.

Bill McKinley of the Northfield Community Church helped bring the clinic to the area and was on hand to make sure the event ran smoothly. “The City of Evanston has been great. The police have been supportive as well as the people at Fleetwood Jourdain.”

McKinley said the target was to serve 50 people per day, but they served 65 on Friday. “We probably hit the quota by noon on Saturday,” he said. The project is supported by grants, “and we keep track of how much in dental services is given away.”

The clinic is a marvel of organization. The City of Evanston made the community center available. Evanston dentist Brad Weiss coordinated the services of eight dentists, including an endodontist and an oral surgeon, and three hygienists. They were helped by 46 student dental assistants and two teachers from the Illinois School of Health Careers.

John Wesley Lane and Rufus Lane of the Giving Hands Foundation drove a rental truck from North Carolina that contained all the equipment needed for the clinic, including 11 dental chairs, lights, supplies — even tables and a generator if needed.

Breakfast and lunch, for both practitioners and patients, was supplied by the Northfield Community Church, Vienna Hot Dogs, and the Rotary Club of Evanston Lighthouse. Club members also helped unload the truck and set up the clinic on Thursday evening and pack it back up again on Saturday.

Also on hand was Dr. Keith Phillips who established the Dental Access Days program in connection with the Pankey Institute. When first started, he said, the goal was to treat as many patients as possible. “Now, we try to get everything done — cleaning, fillings, extractions, even partials if someone is missing front teeth.” He added that Sirona Dental Systems recently donated a unit that will help them produce dental crowns and inlays in a single visit.

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