Mission Lexington dedicates new home for its medical, dental services

jcheves@herald-leader.comMarch 3, 2013 

With a liturgy for "those who sleep on cold streets," Mission Lexington dedicated its new home Sunday, putting its medical and dental clinics under the same roof for the first time.

The nonprofit agency, which provides free primary medical and dental care for those without health insurance, now operates at 230 South Martin Luther King Boulevard, a short walk from the Lextran Transit Center. It relies heavily on donations and volunteers.

For Brenda Smothers, who attended the ribbon-cutting, Mission Lexington is the only place she can get routine medical attention. Smothers, 52, works for Lundy's Catering in Lexington but does not have insurance. That's a common problem, even for the employed. In 2011, 62 percent of uninsured Americans lived in families where at least one adult worked full-time, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

"Last time I went to a doctor, it cost me over $2,000 and it took me more than three years to repay it. It finally went to the collections department," Smothers said. "I didn't go to anyone after that until I heard about this place."

Mission Lexington's partners are Calvary Baptist, Faith Lutheran, Good Shepherd Episcopal, Maxwell Street Presbyterian, First Presbyterian and South Elkhorn Christian churches. It also gets social service funding from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

The dental clinic opened in 2006 on South Limestone. The medical clinic followed in 2008 on Trent Boulevard in suburban south Lexington.

The original clinics provided nearly 10,000 office visits and several million dollars in services, but the facilities were not large enough or adequately wheelchair-accessible, according to Mission Lexington. The new dental clinic has twice the treatment space, which will help reduce a waiting list of more than 700 people who sometimes wait months to be seen.

"This is a big part of what helps us become the kind of place that lifts so many people every day," Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said during Sunday's dedication ceremony.

John Cheves: (859) 231-3266. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: Bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com.

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