Martinsville dental clinic helping to reduce emergency room visits

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) In a decade, a dental clinic is Martinsville has provided $8 million in dental care to the Martinsville area.

Leaders say that equals 37,000 patients who have received care.

Health leaders say because of this clinic, the hospital is seeing fewer dental emergency room visits, which is contrary to the national trend.

WDBJ7 spoke with one of the first patients to ever receive care here and all they could do is smile

"Pretty blessed. I got pretty teeth as a result," Patient Melissa Hopkins said.

Ten years ago, Melissa Hopkins says she was in a tight situation with her first child and no job.

"And needed a lot of dental work," Hopkins said.

Now, she can smile with no worries or insecurities.

"It means a lot because if you're coming into a job or anything," Hopkins said,

Hopkins joined other community leaders Thursday for the celebration.

Leaders with the Piedmont Virginia Dental Health Foundation, Community Dental Clinic thanked their partners and the community for the support over the last decade.

"Relief of pain and suffering, number one," Community Dental Clinic Co-founder Dr. Mark Crabtree said.

From the beginning, Dr. Crabtree says the clinic worked not only to help solve dental issues but prevent future ones.

"We actually have a decrease in the number of people showing up in our emergency room for dental care. Which is, counter to anything else
that is going on in the country, so it's a real miracle to see that happen," Crabtree said.

For Hopkins, it's an answered prayer.

"The economic troubles that we have here. That this has been here for ten years and able to stay open for 10 years," Hopkins said.

The clinic serves those who are uninsured and unemployed for only a $20 co-pay.

There is a long waiting list but leaders say not to worry, come put your name on it if you need dental care, they hope to be here for another 10 years.