‘Clinic with a Heart’ providing free dental care for past 34 years | Local News

The Saipan Seventh-day Adventist Clinic has hosted annual health fairs offering free dental care since 1990, making a lasting impact on the Northern Mariana Islands community for the past 34 years.

The program, called the “Care Clinic,” serves uninsured adults, and people 19 and older line up under a tent set up in front of the SDA clinic every Sunday over Memorial Weekend. Patients eagerly await the clinic's opening at 7:30 am. They have one goal – to take advantage of the free dental services available to those without dental insurance.

May 26, 2024 is no exception. The adult patients came early in the morning. Marites Calica, whose name was first on the list, reported arriving just before 2 a.m. “I wanted to make sure I got a guaranteed spot,” Kalika said.

Free services this year include tooth extractions, fillings, prophylaxis (teeth cleaning), limited x-rays, oral exams/cancer screenings and dental kits. Fifty-six patients were treated. Those with higher blood pressure received personal coaching on stress management and prayer.

Levita Manansala expressed her gratitude to the SDA Clinic for its services over the years. “The clinic helps me keep my teeth clean for free,” she said with a smile. Manansala has not had dental insurance for 30 years. One mother, who did not want her name published, had a similarly positive impression. “I don't have dental insurance, so I'm here today, but I always bring my kids to this clinic for their dental health needs,” said the mother of three. All of her children have insurance plans that cover dental care. “I greatly admire the excellent service provided to patients at the Saipan SDA Clinic,” she added.

Registered dental hygienist Sharon Long enjoys being able to serve patients who have no other way to get care. Long said the free dental program allows SDA clinics to “meet patients' dental needs so they can go on with their lives with less pain, stress and worry.” Long added, “Helping them achieve a clean, healthy smile may enhance Their self-confidence, thereby affecting their financial future and possibly finding a new job or promotion.”

SDA clinic staff who provide services during outreach provide their time free of charge, but always in a cheerful spirit. “Seeing patients’ smiles and gratitude is truly precious and fulfilling,” said general dentist Dr. Oh Ock Kwon. “I want to help more people,” she added. This enthusiasm is echoed by student volunteers. “This is my first time doing something like this, but I find it fun to volunteer at the free clinic,” said John Song, an 11th grader at Mariana High School. “I feel like I'm doing something meaningful, and I hope I can help next time,” Song added. Robin Maclang echoed his classmate's sentiments. “Free clinics are a great way to give back to the community,” McClung said. Four additional volunteer students who assist in the free clinic come to the clinic after the course to shadow our dentists. The Dental Apprenticeship is a service provided by the clinic to young people in the community, providing them with experience that is vital if they decide to one day become a dentist.

About 80 people lined up that Sunday, but no one left empty-handed. Everyone who came received an oral kit and clinic pen, along with cold bottles of water and healthy snack bars, and there were smiles of appreciation even for those who couldn't get the care they were seeking.

The Saipan SDA’s free dental outreach program is held twice a year on Saipan for those without dental insurance (Give a Smile for children in February and the Love Clinic for adults in May) and has been Expanded to Tinian and Rota.

The free dental services the Saipan SDA Clinic provides to the community each year are one way to fulfill its mission to provide quality dental care, health education and outreach programs to expand the healing ministry of Christ in the Northern Mariana Islands. (PR) Dr. Jocelyn B. Sonsona is the office manager of the Saipan Seventh-day Adventist Clinic.

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