I don't recall a single month in recent years that I have not received at least one phone call from an adult who is looking for free or very affordable medical and dental care.
One of the clinics I refer them to is Lexington Mission which has separate medical and dental facilities.
I just found out however, that the medical clinic has relocated and that the dental clinic will join it next year. Now at 230 South Martin Luther King Boulevard, across the street from Calvary Baptist Church, the Lexington Mission Medical Center has been open since Oct. 1.
For 21/2 months, I have been directing people to the clinic's former site on Trent Boulevard. Directionally challenged, I definitely was not the best person to do that. But now finding or directing people to the clinic is easy.
Peg Nethery, manager of the medical clinic, said the move was accomplished in one day with about 30 volunteers hauling everything, including the kitchen sink. The former location was an older structure that had problems with heating, raccoons and accessibility, she said.
"This is a newer building," she said. "The biggest thing is access."
Patients don't have to walk down a hill, to get to the clinic from the parking lot.
"The space is lovely," she continued, "and we have added an exam room, bringing the number to four now."
The clinic also has a much larger lab and a much nicer medication room that was built completely by volunteers, Nethery said. But the best part of the move will be uniting the medical clinic with the dental clinic, she added. The dental clinic operates out of 216 South Limestone.
"They are going to grow a lot," Nethery said. "They will add three dental chairs to the three they have now."
Having only three chairs has added to the delay of first-time patients being seen by a dentist. The new chairs were donated as was much of the other necessary equipment.
The dental clinic will move, the mission hopes, by March. Hopefully.
The problem is the board has had difficulty finding a plumber with a medical gas certification, Nethery said. That equipment is necessary in the dental clinic.
"We are on a limited budget and can't pay what another type of business could pay," she said. "But that is conjecture."
In addition to the plumber, the clinic needs an electrician who can make the clinic's outdoor sign light up as it was intended. And the operation needs volunteer office workers and front desk personnel to keep the doors open during business hours.
Since moving to the new site, which is leased from Calvary, the clinic has served three times more patients than before. Together, the clinics have about 180 visits per month. They have a combined annual budget of $200,000 and have provided $2.6 million in free services since they opened.
Sponsored by six churches — Calvary Baptist, Faith Lutheran, First Presbyterian, Good Shepherd Episcopal, Maxwell Street Presbyterian and South Elkhorn Christian — financial donations are always welcome, particularly with the expansion.
The Mission Lexington dental clinic began in 2006 and the medical clinic in 2008. Patients at the dental clinic must be 18 or older, live in Lexington, be without dental insurance and meet the income eligibility standard. Call for an appointment before dental issues become an emergency because there is a waiting list of about six months for first visits. It is not a walk-in clinic.
For the medical clinic, patients must be 18 or older; live in Lexington; working, drawing unemployment, a full-time student or a current patient at the clinic; and income eligible.
The clinic has daytime, evening and Saturday hours.
There is no better sign of how great the need is for medical and dental care than that Mission Lexington's clinics are expanding. The help they receive from us to continue that service should increase as well.