A Dawson County clinic that offers free medical services soon will add another branch to its list of services.
The Good Shepherd Clinic, located on Highway 53 East, has now completed its dental care suite.
We now have a state-of-the-art center thats capable of providing top quality care, said Dr. Donald Johnson, executive director of the Good Shepherd Dental Clinic.
However, even with all the equipment ready to go, an important element is missing. Dentists. And dental hygienists and assistants.
The clinic is actively seeking dentists, hygienists and trained dental assistants to volunteer their services at hours that are convenient for them, Betty Mallernee said. Mallernee was instrumental in establishing the clinic in memory of her husband, Dr. R.E. Doc Mallernee, a retired dentist who died in 2009.
Once the clinic has an established staff, it will be able to see patients.
When that happens, patients can receive cleanings and minor restorative work. The plan is to get the patient in, get them cleaned up and teach them home care, and then they can care for themselves, Johnson said. Then we will do a comprehensive treatment plan so the patient knows what they need. And if we cant supply it, then we can refer them out to someone who does it.
Which leads to another need the clinic has, Mallernee said: specialty dentists willing to do work for a reduced cost for the clinics patients.
If a dentist is looking for an incentive to volunteer, continuing education might be the push he or she needs. In order to keep your (dental) license, you need 40 hours of continuing education every two years, Johnson said. And were going to be able to supply 10 hours of education each year for people who volunteer here. Its a good incentive. And plus the fact that they (the state of Georgia) cover malpractice insurance or anything that happens here.
Johnson said volunteering at the clinic might also be an ideal fit for a retired dentist. A retired dentist who no longer has malpractice insurance, he said, can get a provisional license to practice in this clinic, and the state of Georgia covers all that.
Johnson emphasized the importance for patients to maintain good dental health. Dental health is important to nutrition because thats the first place food goes is right in there, he said. It has to be mixed with saliva in order to masticate properly, and if you dont do that then youve interrupted the digestive process and it goes on from there.
Dentists who are interested in volunteering are asked to call Mallernee at 706-216-7025.