A free program that provides dental care for uninsured children and the children of migrant farm workers will enter its 15th year this weekend.
The first of six monthly clinics will take place between 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday at St. Joseph Regional Health Network’s campus at North 6th and Walnut streets in downtown Reading.
The Keystone Farmworker Health Outreach Program runs the program with St. Joseph's dental services department and includes Delta Dental, the Berks Schuylkill Hygienists Association and numerous dentists who contribute to and volunteer for the clinic.
"Our mission is to meet unmet needs, and dental care is an unmet need for so many children in our community," said Selina Zygmunt, project coordinator for the farmworker program.
Care provided at the clinics includes a general checkup, cleaning, fluoride treatment, filling of cavities, root canals and oral surgery, Zygmunt said.
The services are offered primarily to children between the ages of five and 16, but older children in need of dental care can get an appointment. To receive care, children must have a referral from a school hygienist, school nurse or their pediatrician.
"This is a highly collaborative project, and while not the complete answer to providing oral health care for uninsured children, projects like this demonstrate that, with relatively little money and with deep commitment, a community can come together to take care of its own and make an important difference," said Kim Musko, practice manager of St. Joseph Regional Health Network dental services, family medicine residency, pediatrics and primary care programs.
Referrals requests can be sent to Zygmunt at 145 N. 6th St., Reading, Pa., 19601. Appointments can be made by calling 610-372-5001.
Any qualified dentist, hygienist or dental assistant can learn more about volunteering by calling Musko at 610-378-2560.
The clinics will take place once a month through June 14.