BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - It is easy for Pam Toney to estimate how long the free medical clinic she runs in Bluffton has been waiting to add dental service.
“10 years. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary and when the clinic was in the dream stage, that was one of the things we wanted. So, it has taken us a long time to get here,” she said.
And sometime next month, Bluffton/Jasper Volunteers in Medicine will fully arrive in dentistry, when their brand new dental clinic begins accepting patients and addressing a critical need in the area.
“Each month, I send 25 patients to one of our local dentists at a cost of anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000. So, I know there is a huge need, most definitely ... this will allow us to so some primary care. And also, with our panoramic x-ray machine, we’ll be able to take those x-rays and send them and send them to the dentists, alleviating a little of the cost to us.”
The new dental clinic was made possible by several local sponsors and the couple whose name is on the door, William and Sheryl Magro, who made the initial donation.
“The live in Sun City and they had been following us and they wanted to help the community. They know that Bluffton and the Jasper area are in need of a variety of services. There are a large group of people in each community without medical and dental insurance. So, this was a way they could give back to the community and ensure that uninsured people get the care that they need.”
That care will start with dental education and by this summer grow to include cleanings, fillings and extractions - a timeline that now will seem like no time at all for Volunteers in Medicine.
“What a wonderful thing to happen. This is our 10th year anniversary, so the thought that we will be able to have a dental clinic that the founders wanted 10 years ago is pretty exciting ... not many free clinics have dental care, so we’re really excited about that.”