Modesto — A Modesto church ministry that feeds and clothes the poor and tends to them when they are sick will soon provide them with free dental care.
Calvary Temple Worship Center's Nineveh Outreach and two Modesto dentists expect to treat their first patients Jan. 4.
The dental clinic will be held once a month through March at Calvary Temple and then four Saturdays a month April through December in a park or church as part of Nineveh Outreach's ministry. The ministry includes food, clothing, health care and spiritual nourishment.
In the beginning, dental care will be limited to sen-iors, a group that Nineveh Outreach and the dentists say has the least access to care. About a half-dozen sen-iors will be treated at each clinic. The focus will be on basic pain relief: extracting teeth and filling cavities.
Nineveh Outreach asks that people not call for dental care. It expects to find patients through those it helps in its ministry.
The dental services will be provided through Nineveh Outreach's mobile dental clinic, a converted Dial-a-Ride bus equipped with two dental chairs. Organizers raised more than $70,000 in donations of money and equipment for the project.
The mobile dental van will join Nineveh's Hope Medivan, which has been providing free basic medical care since 2009. Nineveh has been providing the needy with food and clothes since 1997.
During Nineveh's April-through-December ministry, the two vans will stop at one of three Modesto parks on one Saturday each month. The vans will stop at a church on the fourth Saturday.
The need for free basic dental care is great, especially since the state eliminated most dental services three years ago for adults on Medi-Cal, the state-federal insurance program for the poor.
More than 65,000 Stanislaus County adults were eligible for the benefit when it was cut.
About 1,500 people were treated at a free dental clinic in May at Modesto Centre Plaza, another example highlighting the need.
"The Bible says we are supposed to love our neighbors as we love ourselves," Nineveh Outreach pastor Chuck Cutsinger said.
Dentists Andrew Fletcher and Corey Acree are working with Cutsinger and Hope Medivan and dental van administrator Doug Buchanan on the clinic.
"This is an opportunity to do something very impactful in our community," Acree said, adding that he and Fletcher plan to expand services and bring in more dentists once they have worked out the program's bugs.
Organizers had hoped to launch the mobile dental clinic about a year ago, but said it took much longer to get state approval than they anticipated.
Nineveh Outreach still needs to raise money to purchase dental tools for the dental van. (The dentists now are using their own tools.) If you would like to donate, call Nineveh Outreach's Bonnie Hopkins at (209) 529-7346, ext. 313.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.