By Paula Walter
Ellen Watkins was recently attending a conference where she met a man affiliated with Appalachian Miles for Smiles. The organization provides remote dental services to people throughout the region. When she asked why Miles for Smiles had not come to Johnson County previously, the response was “no one asked us.” So ask she did.
Thanks to organized effort and community support, there will be a two-day mobile dental clinic in Johnson County on Thursday, August 10th and Friday, August 11th. One of the conditions to setting up the dental clinic involved obtaining a sponsor. First Baptist Church stepped forward to sponsor the endeavor and has offered the use of their parking lot, in addition to a large area in the church to be used as a waiting room that is equipped with bathrooms. Appalachian Miles for Smiles has converted two tractor-trailers into mobile dental units furnished with chairs, dental equipment, dentists and hygienists.
Services included for the two-day clinic include x-rays, cleanings, fillings and extractions. “There’s a lot of hurting people here,” said Watkins. There will also be LPNs and RNs to provide blood pressure and blood sugar screenings. There is no charge for the dental care and up to 80 people can be seen. The exam will begin with x-rays to determine what dental work needs to be done.
According to Watkins, if the event is successful, they are planning on Appalachian Miles for Smiles coming back to Johnson County next year. Participants must live in Johnson County and be at least 18 years old. The dental clinic is for adults only.
If you would like to be seen at the dental clinic, contact Ellen Watkins at 423-426-3093 Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Spaces are still available. While this event is not connected with the Red Cross, Watkins is known throughout the county, as she is the Johnson County Disaster Coordinator for the Red Cross. “My heart has been with this county since we moved here,” she said.
Donations are welcome and would help provide hotel accommodations and meals for those offering their time and talents to make the dental clinic a success.