Greta Henning, founder of Penticton’s free dental clinic, says the operation is still going, but they’ve had to scale back to monthly clinics.
That’s not for lack of need, she said, since the appointment schedules for the clinics are filled nearly as quickly as a date is announced.
“This is a worldwide problem. In B.C., we have 20 not-for-profit dental clinics,” she said. “The government recognizes the need and they do support us when they can with extra funding. It is ongoing and maybe even getting worse as the gap with the working poor gets bigger.”
To help keep the H.E.C.K. clinic operating, there is a fundraiser planned for May 10 at the Craft Corner Kitchen, 557 Main St., starting at 5:30 p.m. The theme is Beer, Burger and Balding, according to Henning, and the $25 ticket includes your beer, burger and a band.
Beer and a burger are easy enough, but balding may require a little explanation. Henning said she is encouraging people to raise donations by offering to have their head shaved at the event.
“I am among the people that will shave my head and I have collected already $225 of my $400 goal,” said Henning. Money raised from ticket sales, the silent auction and 50-50 draw goes to support the emergency dental clinic, but money raised through the balding challenge supports another charitable dental venture.
In January, Henning went with a small team of dental professionals to St. Lucia.
“We performed dentistry there, to the people that lived around the plantation where we were staying and then we went to an orphanage and performed treatment as well, said Henning. “We performed surgeries, but we identified five people that needed work, needed extractions but we were unable to perform them in the time we were there.
“Any money that is raised for balding will be sent to St. Lucia to cover the costs of those people that we identified.”
The free dental clinics cater to low-income people, who otherwise couldn’t afford the emergency dental treatments to clear up pain or infection. Often, Henning said, these people end up at the hospital’s emergency room.
“The clinic serves to free up the emergency room, and at the hospital, they can only give prescriptions and send them to the dentist on call, but the dentist on call may charge and that eliminates the ability for some people to see them.
“If they just go with the prescription, it’s a band-aid on a situation that needs to be addressed at some point in the future. It just perpetuates the infection.”
Henning said that if anyone wants to donate, either financially or with silent auction items, they can contact her at 250-493-9299.
“If they want to go bald and get their own donations from friends and family and co-workers, they can just do that and submit the money on the night of the event and get on stage and go bald,” said Henning.
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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