A little over a year ago, New Dentist™ Board Member Dr. Charles Cheney found himself on the receiving end of one of those questions. He was in a conversation with Sue Brockman, who is now executive director of the Rapha Clinic in west Georgia.
At the time, Ms. Brockman was trying to establish the nonprofit community health and dental clinic. The plan was to provide a comprehensive range of services for individuals without insurance or other means to pay for the care. But Ms. Brockman did not have a medical background. She did, however, have a good idea of whom to ask to help her establish the clinic, and among her team of advisors was Dr. Cheney, a general practitioner in Newnan, GA. He was instrumental in helping to get the dental clinic established, and over the course of the past year, he has served as a regular volunteer at the clinic.
“The clinic focuses on emergency procedures and getting patients out of pain. We do a lot of extractions, as well as provide treatment for infections, oral exams, X-rays, and hygiene services,” noted Dr. Cheney. He likens his experiences in the clinic to his military deployment in terms of the numbers of extreme cases and dental emergencies. “It is quite a bit different from what I do in my day-to-day practice where I might take out three or four teeth on a patient.
In the clinic, full-mouth extractions are not uncommon. We are fortunate to have a set of Physics Forceps™ that we use to perform many of the extractions in the clinic.” Dr. Cheney says the clinic plans to begin offering limited restorative procedures in the coming months. In addition to dental services, Rapha clinic, which relies exclusively on donations, also offers medical and vision care to the uninsured and underinsured.
Since opening, the Rapha Clinic has seen nearly 4,000 patients, though it is estimated there are about 19,000 individuals in Carroll County, GA, who have no insurance or are underinsured. “That is one reason the clinic is constantly seeking donations and volunteer support to allow more services to be offered on multiple days,” explained Dr. Cheney. Since the clinic first began offering dental services in November 2012, the clinic has been fortunate to have six dentists consistently volunteer. Unlike the medical services offered by Rapha, there are slight fees for most dental procedures. “But the cost is significantly discounted compared to what would be paid at a regular dental office,” noted Dr. Cheney.