Sandra Barry and Rhonda Selvin, Boothbay residents and others with ties to the area, Dr. Janet Campbell, Dr. Clarice Yentsch and Dr. Wallace Smith, honorary dentist; and Anne Ritchie of Freeport, joined a three year effort to bring quality dentistry to the Florida Keys.
The Waypoint Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate creativity through education, exhibition, and collaboration, initiated the effort by forming a collaborative partnership with the Florida Keys Area Health and Education Center (FKAHEC) to raise funds for the purchase of a Mobile Dental Clinic (MDC ) provide dental care to disadvantaged children in the Florida Keys. This state-of-the-art two-chair facility will help revolutionize care for families in dire need of this vital care.
Like many other communities in the United States, the Florida Keys is a mecca that draws tourists from around the world to its sun-kissed beaches and casual lifestyle. The average tourist does not see the huge disparity between vacationers and very low-income workers, for whom acceptable accommodation is next to impossible and health care, including dentistry, is marginal.
Rhonda C. Selvin, APRN, FNP-C, QTTP, addressed the foundation in a foreword to the SmileMaker for the Florida Keys brochure by Wallace Smith and Clarice Yentsch: “Poor dental health is a gateway to physical and mental health breakdown : Loss of self-esteem, isolation, malnutrition, obesity, insomnia, pain, and substance use disorder. “
The foundation, led by Christine Golia, President, Janet Campbell, Secretary, and Michelle Clauson, Treasurer, raised initial funding through personal contributions, a grant from the Keys Arts Council, a $ 50,000 matching grant from the Ocean Reef Community Foundation in Key Largo and grants from Baptist Health of South Florida and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Officers’ Foundation.
The MDC, purchased by Mission Mobile Medical Group of Greensboro, North Carolina, arrived in the Keys in early December. Three ribbon cutting ceremonies were held January 4-6 at Elementary Schools in Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West. A bilingual dentist has been hired by AHEC and appointments are being made through the Monroe County Schools. Full dental coverage began on January 10th.