Good Shepherd Clinic announced last week plans for an expansion that will include vision and dental services.
The clinic provides free, non-emergency medical care for adults who live, work or go to school in Dawson County and fall at 200 percent or below the federal guidelines for poverty.
A general practice facility, the clinic also offers specialty care, ranging from gynecology and surgical consultations to ear, nose and throat exams.
Volunteers are looking forward to offering the new services at the clinic, which is currently seeking additional doctors, nurses and administrative personnel in order to the expand hours of operation.
Currently, the plan is to offer eye exams and dental screenings once a month, beginning within the next few weeks.
"We've already been in the process of coordinating this," said Doug Powell, who volunteers at the clinic and sits on its board of directors. "We just need to pick the day and schedule it. If we find that the demand is there to do more than one day a month, we'll do that."
Through a partnership with the Lighthouse Foundation, the clinic will be able to offer eye exams, as well as tests for conditions such as glaucoma.
Lighthouse Foundation has mobile units that will be brought to the clinic, where a room has been designated for eye exams.
The clinic has also developed a referral process with local vision specialists, who will fit the patients for glasses.
"Lighthouse pays most of [the cost of the glasses] and the clinic will pay some," Powell said.
Patients will also be asked to pay a small percentage of the cost of the glasses.
The clinic also has a dedicated dental room and two retired dentists ready to start seeing patients. "They will be operational in November if all goes as planned," Powell said. "We'll be doing cleaning and screening, extractions, but if people need more involved services or fillings, we're not going to be able to do everything.
"We will refer them to dentists who want to work with us ... and then we'll pay the bill and do any follow up with them that's necessary."
The volunteer staff of doctors, nurses, medical technicians and administrative personnel operates the clinic entirely on donations.
A fundraiser in support of the free clinic is also planned at The Chimneys at Big Canoe. The second annual Grits and Granola brunch will be held from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 20. Admission into the event is $38 per person.
For more information, call (706) 429-9914.