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Local dentist offers services for free clinicOriginally Published May 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated May 24, 2013 at 12:34 p.m.
When the doors open at 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday for the free dental clinic in the Wells Center at Henderson State University, Arkadelphia dentist Dr. Miranda Childs-Beebe will be right there, ready to work.
Childs-Beebe, 45, has been at all seven dental clinics sponsored by the Arkansas Mission of Mercy under the guidance of the Arkansas State Dental Association at various locations throughout the state. In fact, she organized the first clinic for uninsured and low-income Arkansans in May 2007, and the event was held in Little Rock.
Childs-Beebe said she had attended a free dental clinic in Kansas and came back home determined to set up something similar in Arkansas.
“A lot of dentists give back and go on international missions,” she said. “This is a mission in our own backyard.”
At the clinic, hundreds of dental volunteers from across the state will provide free basic dental care, including cleanings, fillings and extractions, to adults and children of all ages on a first-come, first-served basis. No income or eligibility requirements are necessary.
“No questions asked,” Childs-Beebe emphasized. “Our goal is to relieve pain.
“The doors will open at 6 a.m., and we will work until we’re done. We know about what our dentists can do. We’ll see from 800 to 1,000 patients on the first day. Patients will start lining up on Thursday, hoping to be among the first to be treated.
“So far, to date, we have served approximately 11,000 patients and performed $5.4 million worth of treatments in 12 clinic days,” she said. “That’s a lot of work. We had 150 dentists last year. That’s an amazing amount of work.”
Childs-Beebe said all of the workers are volunteers, including the dentists, nurses, dental hygienists, dental assistants and pharmacists.
“We set up an in-house pharmacy as well so people are able to get the prescriptions they need before leaving the clinic,” she said.
“We also will feed the patients on site. We serve breakfast and lunch to them while they are in line. We work with the Arkansas State Baptist Convention, who will provide a relief team from the First Baptist Church here in Arkadelphia that will prepare and serve the meals. That will get them a good meal for the day.
“It takes a lot of people to make this work,” she said. “It takes a lot of volunteers. Many of our volunteers return every year, following us from one corner of the state to the other. We have a lot of loyal volunteers who make personal sacrifices to work with us.”
Last year’s clinic was in Jonesboro, and next year’s clinic will be in Springdale.
Childs-Beebe is the daughter of Randy and Linda Childs of Arkadelphia. Linda Childs is the office manager for her daughter’s Arkadelphia dental practice. Childs-Beebe has been married to Jim Beebe for five years.
She is a 1986 graduate of Arkadelphia High School and a 1990 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University. She received her degree in dentistry from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry in Memphis in 1994.
“I came back home, opened up my door and said, ‘Hello, world, here I am,’” she said with a laugh.
Childs-Beebe said she became interested in volunteerism when she was a pre-med student at OBU. While on a mission trip to Brazil, she was faced with the reality of a child dying if he did not receive proper medical treatment. Up until that point, she was sure she wanted to be a pediatrician.
“The child fled in fear,” she said, noting that she assumed he died untreated. “I thought, ‘Am I really ready to face children dying?’
“There was a dentist there as well, and I thought, ‘What he’s doing is not bad.’ So I decided to become a dentist.”
Childs-Beebe is the immediate past president of the Arkansas State Dental Association and president of the Arkansas Mission of Mercy Board of Directors.
The two-day free dental clinic is funded by several sponsors, including the Walmart Foundation
and a $100,000 grant from the Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation.
For more information on the upcoming free dental clinic in Arkadelphia, call (800) 501-2732 or visit www.arkansasmissionofmercy.org.