A young woman was sitting on a curb near Farabee Family Dental Care Friday afternoon waiting for her number to be called so she could have a tooth extracted.
She had been there since 8:30 a.m.
“I had an abscess tooth a couple weeks ago and Riggs (Community Health Center) doesn’t have a dentist, so I went to the emergency room,” said Rhonda Barricks, 26, of Lafayette. “I tried to get them to pull it, but they won’t pull it.”
Barricks was one of hundreds who flocked to the 12-room dental practice for the one day of free dental work. The offer couldn’t have come at better time for those who use Riggs regularly but have been out of luck since the clinic’s dentist left in April.
Veronique LeBlanc, president and CEO of Riggs, said the clinic has interviewed two dentists. She said a former dentist for Riggs and other local dentists have volunteered their time.
During Farabee Family Dental Care’s day of free care, patients were offered a choice of a cleaning, filling or extraction.
The practice is part of Heartland Dental Care and was able to bring in support from fellow offices in Indianapolis and Peru to help with the abundance of patients, said Melissa Coors, practice administrator.
“I’d say about half have been extractions so far,” she said about 1 p.m.
Teressa King, 53, of Lafayette was sitting against a tree and waiting to have her tooth pulled. She had been in pain for nearly a year.
“It’s just bad. It needs to come out,” she said.
King had an appointment at Riggs in January, but canceled to tend to her mother in Kokomo who was going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
She tried to make another appointment, but it was going to take several weeks because the dentist was leaving. Moreover, King said she didn’t have Medicaid, making it more difficult to access dental care.
“It’s worth the wait to me,” said Barrick’s mother, Lynne Couch, 53, of sitting outside for five hours.