Elks help fund free dental care for children with disabilities

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A mobile dental program for children with disabilities rolls into Cape Girardeau today.

"We've been in business for over 40 years, but we've been been coming to Cape Girardeau for the last 20 or 25 years," said Barbara Cushman, who manages the Elks Mobile Dental Program for the Truman Medical Center Lakewood in Kansas City, Mo.

She said children age 3 to 21 who are mentally or developmentally disabled, as well as any who receive services through the state's bureau of special health care needs, are eligible for the free service. Children in low-income families and those with no health insurance will be treated if time is available, Cushman said.

Uninsured or low-income families "will need a letter of referral from the Elks Lodge," Cushman said.

The program, which provides basic dental care, is funded though the Elks Benevolent Trust, the Department of Hospital Dentistry at Truman Medical Center East and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

Joe McLemore, exalted ruler of Cape Girardeau Elks Lodge No. 639, said annual free dental care is just one of the community services Elks provided nationwide. They also support the Missouri Veterans Home and host annual fundraisers for programs ranging from St. Jude Hospital in Memphis to cancer research to the Red Cross. Members of Cape Girardeau's Elks Lodge No. 639 are proud of the state's three dental program vans.

"Last year, I think we provided $800,000 worth of care in Southeast Missouri," McLemore said.

Memphis dentist Janeen Moore will be on duty in Cape Girardeau, along with dental assistant Cindy Smith of Farmington, Mo. Smith has participated in the Elks Dental Program for 20 years, Cushman said. The dental van includes a wheelchair lift and is considered fully accessible.

The dental clinic will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays until Jan 24.

Visit the program's Web site for the most current forms, schedules and details. The address is www.trumed.org/tmc/lakewood, then follow the links for "Your Medical Care," followed by "Health Services," then click on "Elks Mobile Dental Van."

To schedule an appointment, call 573-690-6003 and leave a message with your daytime phone number.

pmcnichol@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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