GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Friday mornings at the Baker Clay Dental Clinic can get pretty busy. That’s because between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., the all-volunteer force of dentists, hygienists, and dental …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Friday mornings at the Baker Clay Dental Clinic can get pretty busy. That’s because between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., the all-volunteer force of dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants from the Fortis College Dental Assistant Program and along with clerical assistants are providing a valuable service to the community.
Free dental care is given to those who cannot afford it. Some of the dentists involved in donating their time and work to the clinic are Dr. Greg Archambault, Dr. Curt Standish and Dr. Doug Reed. Standish has two daughters, also dentists, who assist as well.
The clinic is located at 1305 Idlewild Ave. and it’s seen a great deal of traffic over the years. At one point, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, patients were camping out overnight to be early enough to be seen.
“Before COVID, we see anywhere between 10 and 25 patients during that time,” said Archambault. “Maybe average in the 15-20 range. And so, we could see about 20 or 25 patients. Sometimes 40 patients would show up, so we went to a lottery system.”
Patients in pain would be seen first, but after that, they’d be selected in a blind drawing.
Patients are willing to wait to be seen and are grateful for the services provided at the clinic.
“I’ve been here, and they’ve pulled several teeth of mine,” said Irene Tatar of Green Cove Springs. “They’re very good. It’s a very great association that they got going on here. It’s a very great gift for them to help with the dental. Dental is so expensive for people. I really like that they have this program. I hope they never lose this program. I hope this program stays for a long time.”
“I’m just trying to get my stuff situated,” said another patient. “It’s great, I think. It’s helping people out that can’t afford it. I got quoted – almost $2,000 to get my stuff situated [from another dentist], and they’re helping the community out.”
In addition to the dental treatment, almost everyone who goes to the clinic receives some level of health and nutrition treatment. Many of the dental problems are directly linked to a poor diet and health habits.
The building where the clinic is currently located is scheduled for demolition later this year. They are in the process of searching for a new location. Archambault is attempting to move the clinic to share a site with the Way Medical Clinic, either permanently or until they can find another location.
“It’s just rewarding to go and have a chance to educate patients and to provide some relief for those who really don’t have any other place to get that education or treatment,” Archambault said.
To identify if a patient is eligible to receive the services rendered. There is a screening that takes place. They are screened by the health department. The financial threshold to receive treatment is 200% of the poverty level. If they have dental insurance, then they aren’t seen.
“About two-thirds to three-fourths of what we do is pain relief, usually in the form of extraction,” said Archambault, who has been involved with the clinic since its inception about 18 years ago. “We do save teeth by doing root canals and fixing them.”
For specialty work, patients are referred to outside clinics at no cost to them, where they can have the specialty work done. After that, they return to the first clinic to continue or follow up on their treatment.