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ANGELS IN OUR MIDST: (Dr. Dan Henry, DDS, Dental Clinic Organizer)
For more than three decades, a man and a host of his colleagues have been sharing their gifts.
There is a lot of need for their services; a need too many people can't afford.
He helps them take those services on the road, providing their care for free.
The Activity Hall at Richard's Memorial United Methodist Church in Brownsville has been transformed into a mission field. For more than 30 years, Dr. Dan Henry has led dental missions to Central America and right here at home.
Dr. Dan Henry, DDS, Dental Clinic Organizer; "Excuse me, I get kind of emotional about it. There's people that need help and I'm doing the best that I can to help them."
Dr. Henry has no trouble recruiting his colleagues who also want to help. Many of them have made overseas trips with him. The reputation of their work and their cause brought a young Navy dentist home for the weekend to volunteer.
Dr. Ezra Merritt, DDS, Lieutenant, DC, USN; "Even growing up, my parents, my family were all about giving back to the community. So, the fact that I'm a dentist now and can give back professionally, it's very, very rewarding and something I've always wanted to do."
Dental assistants and hygienists gave their time too. For those entering the field, this clinic is offering more than a lesson in dentistry.
Marqus Coleman, Fortis Institute Dental Assisting Pgm; "What a better opportunity to give back to the community and allow my students to get some training at the same time. But, to give back to people who are less fortunate who actually need the help."
As well as their commitment of time, the dentists also donated the supplies and tools needed for restorative work; all types of fillings, and surgical extraction's. As for the setup, well, Dr. Henry quotes the adage about necessity being the mother of invention. Take the oilless air compressors bought at Home Depot.
Dr. Henry; "Hook it up with a regulator and set it on about 80 pounds of pressure and adaptors to run through quarter inch tubing, I can hook it to a dental unit to run a high speed dental drill."
For water pressure...
Dr. Henry; "We found that a Bilge pump off of a boat works for doing that. And we rigged that up to a little regulator so we can dial pressure exactly; 18 pounds, 20 pounds."
Dr. Henry; "One inch PVC pipe that we run all the way outside. And we put a Shopvac connected to the end of it with a collector tank in the middle."
Dr. Dan Henry, DDS, Dental Clinic Organizer; "We can go out in the middle of the jungle and set it up; or we can set it up in a church like this; or I can t it up in the middle of Davis Highway if I had to."
As for patients, there was no shortage of people in need. Dr. Henry's only regret is that there was a limit to the number they could see.
Ronilee Henderson, Patient; "Dental work is not cheap. And when you don't have insurance, it's almost impossible."
Dr. Merritt; "I don't know if you've gotten a look at the turnout but, I mean, it's obvious that there's a real need. There's folks that don't have access to care."
"We'll only be able to treat 150 people. But, that 150 people will be treated with love and respect and with excellence. All of these dentists that show up at this clinic are excellent, excellent dentists."
And those 150 patients were able to leave with relief from pain, teeth restored and "grateful."
Ronilee; "For them to come out and do this, it's awesome. It's really, really awesome."
Dr. Henry; "We're making a difference."
Angels in our Midst is brought to you by the Children's Hospital at Sacred Heart.