Clinic Aims To Address Lack Of Dental Insurance

Patients get their vital signs checked before receiving dental care at Huntington Convention Center. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]

A Lyndhurst-based non-profit held the first day of a two-day dental clinic in Downtown Cleveland today. The non-profit Medworks has held clinics in Northeast Ohio since 2009, but this is the first one big enough for the Huntington Convention Center.

“All services are free and we’re treating anyone who comes in the door. So no qualifications, no questions asked, all are welcome and we are treating until we reach capacity,” says Tonya Passarelli of Medworks.

The volunteer-staffed, free clinic is aimed at the uninsured and underinsured.

In one of the convention center’s exhibit halls, Medworks set up dental chairs, x-ray stands and a medical tent. Patients in need of dental care moved from the vital signs area, to the checkup to one station or another depending on their needs.

The organization's CEO Jerry Belinson says the most common service performed is extractions.

“Although I have to say at this point I’m a little disappointed that we’re not seeing as many kids today as I hoped we would today for sealants. But tomorrow’s Saturday, maybe we’ll see more then tomorrow," says Belinson.

Belinson says this is the largest clinic they’ve put on yet – they’re able to serve up to 600 people a day. Since its founding, Medworks has run free clinics at federally qualified health centers around Northeast Ohio. Those would attract 150 to 200 total. Belinson says those without dental insurance go to emergency rooms where they’re unable to perform dental work. So they’re prescribed pain meds and referred to a dentist.

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