BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It’s important to stay on top of your health, but just in case you’ve missed a few check-ups, doctors in Baton Rouge are on standby to help.
“It’s a different thing,” said Marcus Foxworth. “I didn’t know all those people were going to be here.”
Patience is the name of the game and Foxworth doesn’t mind waiting. He says where he’s from, he’s never seen anything like it: a building packed with hundreds of people waiting in line for free healthcare.
The Love Heals free clinic was held Friday, Mar. 15 and Saturday, Mar. 16 at the Baton Rouge Airport multiplex building.
Just about every healthcare provider you can think of is volunteering. Dr. Coleatha Fowler-Walker works for Care South Dental and Medial off Florida Boulevard. She says the majority of people want dental work, but some patients need wellness checks and screenings.
“It’s just about making sure their labs are within normal ranges,” she said.
David Carter, DDS with Smile Studio Family Dentistry & Orthodontics in Zachary brought his entire staff along to give back. He and others from around the parish are providing teeth cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and extractions.
Organizers say thousands are without healthcare and the majority of patients visiting the free clinic come for the free dental work. Longtime dentist Hugh McKnight, DDS says it’s unfortunate, but due to certain circumstances, but most people don’t see the dentist until they have a pressing issue, but that’s also when care can be the most expensive. These free cleanings and minimal procedures can save a lot of headache in the long run.
Clinic organizers say in two days, they served 985 people from all across the state. About 650 people volunteered for the free event.
“We are very pleased with the impact of the clinic and with how well our community came together to make it successful,” said director of the clinic, Councilwoman Donna Collins-Lewis. “We are grateful for our sponsor, Louisiana Healthcare Connections, and our many other community partners for their commitment to improving health in Baton Rouge.”
“Lots of times, the lack of money dictates how much dentistry they have done and generally speaking, the need exceeds the financial needs,” McKnight said.
Collins-Lewis says in 2018, the event provided more than half a million dollars in dental services.
“The goal of the clinic is not only for today and tomorrow to get served, but to connect them with providers after the clinic for ongoing healthcare,” Lewis said.
“It also speaks to the need for healthcare access,” Mayor Sharon Weston Broome added. “It also speaks to the need that some people don’t have the resources for the healthcare they need.”
Medical providers say a lot of the patients seeking help are underserved; this free clinic feels that void.
Optometrists were also on hand providing eye exams and glasses.
This year was the second year for the free clinic. In 2018, the clinic served more than 1,400 people with the help of almost 1,600 volunteers.
“Helping to build healthy communities is the core of our mission, and for us, the Baton Rouge Free Clinic is an ideal opportunity to do just that,” said Louisiana Healthcare Connections Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Marcus Wallace. “We are very appreciative of all the volunteers, local businesses, and city officials and personnel who worked so diligently to make such a difference in the lives of so many.”