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New Dental Clinic for Veterans

Guest Contributor, Kaity Ocean
TMCC Veteran Dental Clinic Image

Joe McElhinney, D.D.S. and volunteer dental assistants provide dental care for veterans, together with TMCC Dental Assisting Program students.

With the assistance of a grant from the William N. Pennington Foundation—and in partnership with Truckee Meadows Community College Dental Clinic—Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs’ Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD) has opened a new dental clinic to serve local low-income veterans in need.

In addition to the 110 community dentists and 14 dental labs donating their services as volunteers of AAVD—which to date has helped more than 850 veterans—this new clinic will be instrumental in cutting wait times and expediting care for about 200 more veterans who are currently waitlisted for the program.

Located in the TMCC Dental Hygiene Clinic, the new operation is led by three retired local dentists. Dr. Joe McElhinney and Dr. Bob Devin (also a veteran) will perform restorative dental care, and Dr. Tom Myatt will perform triage, and simple or emergency extractions. Two dental assistants will work alongside these providers, while dental assisting students currently enrolled in the TMCC Dental Assisting Program under the direction of Professor Julie Muhle, Program Coordinator, will also participate with assisting, setup, x-rays and sterilization.

“This clinic is a dream come true,” said AAVD Founder Linda Haigh. “Because so many local low-income veterans may not receive treatment by the VA Dental Clinic and cannot afford to get care on their own, the waitlist for AAVD has grown swiftly, causing our veterans to wait two years to see a dentist. With this new clinic—and thanks to TMCC and the William N. Pennington Foundation—AAVD will be able to serve more veterans in a shorter period of time, leaving less veterans suffering in pain for so long.”

The Pennington Foundation’s Generous Support

The William N. Pennington Foundation was established in 1989 by Founder William N. Pennington, a veteran himself who grew up during the Great Depression when his family faced very difficult times. In 1942, at the age of 19, he volunteered to serve his country during World War II as a U.S. Army pilot.

When the Foundation learned about AAVD and the strides it has made to help veterans receive much needed dental care, as well as the more than 200 veterans who are still waiting for their chance to go through the program, the Foundation stepped in to help.

Every year since its inception in 2010, AAVD helps low-income veterans who take home below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—around $900 per month on average. It hears from significantly more veterans, including younger service members from recent wars, who are seeking help. While the program continues to pair veterans with volunteer dentists in the community, it has reached a point where it also requires the addition of this clinic component in order to attend to the number in need.

About the AAVD and NNDHP

The AAVD provides low-cost to no-cost dental care to low-income veterans in critical need throughout Northern Nevada. In its seventh year, AAVD has received more than $4.2 million in donated dental services by the 110 volunteer dental providers and free or discounted services from 14 dental labs.

Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs (NNDHP) originally started as The Pediatric Dental Care Program in 1982 by a modest group of concerned doctors. NNDHP is now the largest volunteer organization in Nevada providing no-cost to low-cost dental care to low-income veterans, and for uninsured, at-risk children through its Adopt a Vet Dental and Healthy Smile Healthy Child programs.

For more information about the new Adopt a Vet Dental Program Clinic, please call 775-470-8707, or email Charlotte Worthley. For more information about the Adopt a Vet Dental Program or the Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs, visit NNDHP.