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Reverend questions need for free dental clinic

August 15, 2012
CITIZEN STAFF REPORT (mtoadvine@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

America has excellent medical/dental care available for those who can afford it. But the retired Rev. David B. Stacy says care delivery is beyond the reach of those without insurance.

He says Medicare does not have a dental benefit for those more than 65 years of age, or for children of those on disability.

"Medicaid reimbursement in Florida is so small that most dentists cannot take Medicaid patients," he said.

Dental patients without insurance or money are often referred to 911 or hospital emergency rooms, he said.

But an emergency room visit in Lee County averages $1,000 per visit, which Stacy says is estimated to be enough to operate a free clinic for two months.

His question for Lehigh is this: Is Lehigh ready for a free dental clinic?

He says a free dental clinic can offer treatment for uninsured and underinsured who early up to 150 percent of poverty level, which is $22,000 per year for a family of four.

The retired minister lives just outside Lehigh in Stone Valley Loop in Fort Myers. Stacy says dental health is directly related to physical health.

For-profit "dental clinics" often set patients up on expensive financing plans charging from 15 to 20 percent interest, he said.

"After reading this and we know there are many people in Lehigh who need dental care, do you think we should pursue a free such clinic with volunteer dentists helping out?" Stacy said.

"If your answer is yes, tell Andrea Kuzbyt, executive director for Volunteers in Medicine which operates a free medical clinic in Lehigh. You can email her at: akuzbyt@leecountyVIM.com.

 
 

 

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