People in need of dental care had been in line since Wednesday, patiently waiting for the doors of the Salina Bicentennial Center to open early Friday morning for the Kansas Mission of Mercy free dental clinic.
Dr. Cindy Reed helped organized the event. She told KSAL News early Friday morning that the first people in line began waiting Wednesday afternoon.
Reed said that those in line were allowed inside, out of the cold, Thursday night at 10:00. At 4:30 Friday morning volunteers began serving breakfast. By 6:00 patients were going through a health screening, and by 7:00 all of the chairs, over 75, were full of patients.
There are no appointments or reservations and patients will are seen on a first come, first served basis. Reed said that the vast majority in line were in good spirits, and were patiently waiting for treatment.
Treatment includes procedures like cleanings, fillings, and extractions, among others.
The goal on Friday is to treat 900 patients, and to treat 900 more on Saturday. By 7:30 Friday morning over 800 patients had already checked in.
An event like this would not be possible without a small army of help. Over 1,000 people are helping, including hygienists, dental assistants, medical personnel, community volunteers, and over 100 dentists.
Support for the project comes entirely from donations and grants and uses no state or federal funding. This project is costing about $140,000, but will leave behind approximately $1 million of donated dental care in return.
This is the fourteenth year of the the Kansas Mission of Mercy. Since its inception in 2003, the effort has provided care worth $12,987,879 to 24,149 patients.
For those who could not make it on Friday, doors open back up Saturday morning at 4:30.