Free dental clinic in B-N expected to be Illinois' largest ever
BLOOMINGTON -- Dentists expect the Illinois Mission of Mercy -- which will be Friday and Saturday in Bloomington -- to be the largest free dental clinic in Illinois history.
The need for dental care was evident when organizers arrived Thursday morning to set up the clinic at The Interstate Center and found two tents with people who camped out.
"People started to arrive last night" even though the clinic doesn't begin until 6 a.m. Friday, Dr. Brad Barnes said Thursday.
The clinic -- sponsored by the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation -- will be 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday at The Interstate Center, 2301 W. Market St., Bloomington. The clinic is for anyone in need. Care will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cleanings, fillings, treatment partials and extractions will be offered, said Barnes, a Normal dentist who is co-chairman of the event. He expects about 2,000 people to be treated and supported by 1,000 volunteer dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, other medical professionals and social service workers.
In addition to providing dental care, dentists want to send a message to state legislators and the governor that a long-term solution to provide ongoing dental care to Medicaid recipients is needed, said Barnes and Dave Marsh, director of government relations for the Illinois State Dental Society.
Dentists are paid 46 cents on the dollar for treating Medicaid patients but dentists' overhead costs average 64 cents on the dollar, Barnes and Marsh said. Because dentists pay every time they see Medicaid patients, they limit the number of those patients they treat.
The message is being heard. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to be at the clinic to sign dental-related legislation 12:45 p.m. Saturday. Quinn's gubernatorial opponent, State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, is expected to be at the clinic 1:15 p.m. Saturday.