The Franklin McKinley Dental Clinic provides free dental care to children on a weekly basis, Monday through Friday, as long as volunteer dentists are available. It is a part of the School Health Centers – a program of The Health Trust.
The children served at the Franklin McKinley Dental Clinic are typically aged 5-12 and have extensive decay due to the inability to obtain dental insurance or dental care. They belong to “working poor” families who make more money than would allow them to qualify for welfare, but not enough to provide dental insurance or to afford dental care. They are the targets of this program, and they are being reached.
The volunteers at the dental clinic are encouraged to work slowly with the children, realizing that their visit is often their first experience with a dentist and, hence, an occasion that will mold their perceptions of dentistry and dentists. All of the volunteers conduct the initial exam, cleaning their teeth, educating them about care for their teeth, and follow-up with examinations that are deemed necessary by the dentist.
In October of 1996, the Franklin McKinley Dental Clinic opened its doors with two volunteers, Dr. William Comport, DDS, and his assistant, Diane Boseman, RDA, seeing children twice a week. Maria Campero, RDA, was since hired to staff the clinic full-time, schedule the volunteers, work chair side, hold the hands of anxious children, and serve as an interpreter when necessary.
Janet Muehl coordinates the Sealant Program, the mobile dental program that reaches second, third, and sixth graders by moving from school to school with 73 volunteer dentists, hygienists, and assistants applying sealant and making referrals to the clinic. This is not a mobile van, however, it is a “pack ‘em up and move ‘em” operation.
The Dental Clinic was the recipient of The Dental Initiative Grant, which pays for dental screenings and dental sealant application at school sites. This collaboration between Dr. William Comport, Franklin McKinley School District, The Health Trust, and a team of 99 volunteers from the Santa Clara County Dental Society is bringing immediate benefits to these children and their families by giving quality dental care. Individually and collectively, these volunteers are serving to boost levels of self-confidence by reaching deep into the futures of the children, contributing toward a healthy start for underserved youth.