A free dental care clinic is planned for this fall just across the Nebraska border in Sioux City. The two-day clinic, known as the “Mission of Mercy,” has provided 4,500 patients with about $2.5 million in free care since 2008.
Sioux City native Dr. Dick Hettinger is chair of the project and says past clinics have been held in central or eastern Iowa.
“We brought it to Sioux City because we have not been on this side of the state, that’s the biggest reason,” Hettinger said. “We’re kind of looking at this as a tri-state event. We’re right across from Nebraska and South Dakota. We anticipate that we’ll have patients and volunteers from both of those states.”
Patients are seen on a first come, first serve basis. There are no income eligibility requirements.
“The need is obviously pretty widespread. Any town, right now, we could go into and find more than enough people to populate our clinic for more days than we could be open,” Hettinger said. “With the unemployment and the cutbacks in insurance in a number of companies, it’s just not too hard to find people who need to be taken care of.”
At last year’s event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, about 1,000 dental professionals donated their services. This year, the clinic will be held November 18 and 19 at the Tyson Center in Sioux City.