When the Sullivan County Health Department discontinued its children's dental program last year it left lots of equipment unused.
The county commission decided this week to give it to two agencies that offer dental care to those in need. They're going to need it as the new healthcare act doesn't provide for dental care.
"Eight out of ten people who come here asking for help ask for dental help. So that's 80 percent of people that come in here looking for help need help and they need to see a dentist," said Helen Scott, executive director of Healing Hands Health Care Center.
And for Healing Hands Health Care Center, with two volunteer dentists for one day a week, that's a lot of folks to care for and a lot of expensive equipment needed.
A lot of dental equipment has sat unused at the now-closed Sullivan County Health Department Children's Dental Clinic. But now it will be going to Healing Hands in Bristol and Friends In Need in Kingsport following a vote by the county commission.
"I believe the commission's spirit was that the equipment get to stay in Sullivan County continue to provide as a safety net provider for the citizens of Sullivan County and be used in a very positive way," Gary Mayes with the health department said.
And the chairs may be filling up sooner that expected; as these organizations told us, there are no provisions for adult dental care in the new healthcare reform act. "The new healthcare act, called the Affordable Health Care Plan, it does not cover adult dental at all. So it does not cover any dental needs at all so we anticipate more people coming through our door," Helen Scott says.
"It is disappointing to know that we've really worked hard in this country on a change in healthcare, even a Health Care Reform Act was passed but yet, we do not have any dental provisions included," Mayes adds.
And that could mean more need and more patients for both of the county's health clinics trying to help. So the new equipment couldn't come at a better time.