Updated: 06/10/2014 5:40 PM
Created: 06/10/2014 4:45 PM WNYT.com
By: Benita Zahn
Good dental care is key to overall health, yet thousands of New Yorkers either don't have dental insurance or the coverage is inadequate for their needs.
Enter a special, free program - arriving in New York for the first time - and it will be held at Hudson Valley Community College.
Dr. Brian Kennedy of Troy is one of an estimated 200 dentists who'll be donating their time and expertise later this week - providing free dental care to anyone who needs it.
"We're trying to focus on the people that don't have any access through Medicaid, through their employers or are working hard, are trying to raise their children, they may be taking care of their children but they're not taking care of themselves. That's who we are targeting for this event," explains Dr. Kennedy.
The event is sponsored by America's Dentists Care Foundation which supports Dental Missions of Mercy in some 30 states.
New York's first mission will be held at Hudson Valley Community College. One hundred dental stations will be set up in the gymnasium and doors open at 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
And pretty much all nature of dental care will be provided - free - for kids and adults.
"Our first focus is always on pain and infection," explains Dr. Kennedy who adds, "But people who haven't had a good examination, haven't had a thorough cleaning will also get care."
Along with the dentists, some 200 dental hygienists like Judy De Lorenzo, Department Chair of the Dental Hygiene program at HVCC are also donating their time. As she points out, this program should be a start in ongoing dental care.
"We're not going to leave people without help. We're going to have links to clinics, there's residency programs that treat people on a sliding scale. We'll make sure that they know where to go from here."
The two-day program is first come, first served. There's no pre-registration, no means test - but you will have to answer an array of health questions - just like any other patient.
"If you're there on that day, Friday, we have a vast amount of resources and a lot of volunteers and we want to help you," says Dr. Kennedy.
This program is almost two years in the making. It involves donations of both equipment and cash and fundraising to cover other costs.