Kingsport Times-News: KINGSPORT — Friends in Need Health Center will launch the operation of its recently completed Appalachian Miles for Smiles (AMS) Mobile Dental Unit in Kingsport this Thursday and Friday.
This event will be staged at the Kingsport Farmers Market and will provide dental care at no cost to Shades of Grace United Methodist Church congregants. Will Shewey is the pastor of Shades of Grace, located in downtown Kingsport. Shewey said the greatest health need to those whom Shades of Grace ministers is dental care and relief of dental pain. “We had one member whose tooth pain was so intense, this individual extracted his own tooth with a pair of regular mechanic pliers,” said Shewey. Because so many folks do not have dental insurance, stories like this are not uncommon, Shewey said, adding that dental problems can sometimes be indicative of other underlying health problems. Dr. Joe Smiddy, an area retired physician who has volunteered his time and services around the world, works closely with AMS and Shades of Grace and said the introduction of the service of this mobile unit is an essential step toward solving the enormous need for dental care in our region.
The Appalachian Miles for Smiles Mobile Dental Unit is a five treatment bay, state-of-the-art dental clinic equipped to be operational at any remote location 30 minutes after arrival. This community asset has been made possible through collaboration by FIN, Remote Area Medical, United Way of Greater Kingsport and many local businesses and civic clubs in conjunction with many hours by volunteers actually constructing this unit. The volunteer effort was supervised by Frank Waldo, co-owner of Tele-Optics Inc. and global volunteer. “Having volunteers do the construction of this unit enabled the project to be completed at a fraction of the commercial cost and led to a design that is far more flexible and adaptable than one purchased from a custom design manufacturer,” said Waldo. The unit will remain in Kingsport permanently to serve those in our region who have no affordable alternative dental care. “Friends in Need (FIN) is delighted to participate in Tennessee Smile Power Week with Tennessee Charitable Clinic Network and Delta Dental of Tennessee. Delta Dental’s Smile 180 Foundation supports Charitable Dental Clinics that serve uninsured and underinsured patients across Tennessee. FIN is very appreciative of the tremendous equipment and monetary support provided by Delta Dental of Tennessee,” said Bruce Sites, executive director of Friends In Need and project manager for the Appalachian Miles for Smile Program.
The overall plan is to have the Appalachian Miles for Smiles Mobile Dental Unit available at all major Remote Area Medical Events in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia as well as at 12 to 15 mini, two-day events in the region.
When the AMS mobile unit is not in use for these events, it will be set up to deliver hygiene care in the region. It is planned that this AMS mobile unit will provide dental and eye care to approximately 1,500 uninsured patients of all ages on an annual basis. The motto of the mobile dental clinic is “Every Mile Improves a Smile.” Sites said the greatest need for the event is volunteer dentists, dental assistants and dental hygienists. Those interested and willing to serve please call (423) 378-2AMS (378-2267) or email at email@example.com.