Friday event offered free dental care for those in need
Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - The patients came early and many came in pain, but they left with a smile as three dentists and their staffs volunteered for a full "Day of Giving."
Published: September 22, 2012
Published: September 22, 2012
Patients were already waiting when Dr. David Willey drove up at 4:45 a.m. Friday to his dental office on U.S. 27, near the Don Jose Mexican restaurant.
"People were out here and they actually helped me set up a little bit," he said.
The event's offer of free dental services prompted a large turnout, which even filled the tent that was set up in the parking lot. With 75 people signed up for treatment by 9:30 a.m., some stood or sat in the parking lot.
Inside his office, Willey, along with endodontist, or root canal treatment specialist, Gayle Obermayr and orthodontist Steven Guelff, brought relief and smiles to the patients.
After surgically removing a tooth from a male patient, Willey said, "This is the first time we have done this in a group thing. We adopt some families and patients and do treatment at no charge during the year for a lot of people, but this is the first time we have done something on a community wide thing."
They were doing everything from basic restorative and removal of teeth to cleanings, he said. "Whatever we can do to help."
Guelff said he had been handling mostly dental emergencies such as tooth extractions and toothaches.
"Doctor Wiley asked me and I couldn't say 'no,'" he said. "We've had some great patients here today and I think everyone is very thankful that doctor Willey and his staff were able to do this."
After having his teeth cleaned and checked, Leonard Cochran waited outside while his wife was having two wisdom teeth removed.
This is good, what they are doing, giving back to the community, he said. When he arrived at 5:35 a.m. there were already 16 people ahead of him.
Julie Hillier, a dental assistant with Willey for nearly 17 years, brought in a couple of family members to help during the busy day. Her husband, Ron, directed traffic outside the office while her daughter, Crystal Simpkins, who is an LPN, handled the sterilizing duties.
With all the treatment rooms occupied inside and the waiting room full, Jennifer Pursifull waited outside for her turn to see a dentist to have her abscessed tooth treated.
"I have been in pain," she said. "I just haven't had the money to fix it. I am very grateful."
Willey's office manager, Elaine Wadlinger, said, "If patients are in pain we are trying to alleviate that. Do as much as we can for as many people as we can."
They planned to start treating patients at 8 a.m. and work until 5 p.m., but they started at 7:30 a.m., she said.
Patients were given a bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and oral hygiene information, and a message suggesting that they do a good deed for someone less fortunate.
Willey couldn't estimate what the donated services were worth.
"When I get done I could tell you, but it will be significant with three doctors going at it … it will be thousands and thousands of dollars by the time we are done today," he said.
email@example.com (863) 386-5826