ROCHESTER — Julie Natsas stood in the lobby of Mercy Outreach Center, clutching a new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste.
"I’m so happy today!" she said to Susan Densmore, the center’s dental coordinator. "I finally got my teeth done!"
Natsas noted she has no health or dental insurance, and she praised the Mercy staff for their care.
"For people who don’t have the means, the insurance, it’s very acceptable," she said.
Located at 142 Webster Ave., Mercy Outreach Center is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and serves uninsured and working-class patients. The center accepts donations for its services, but refuses no one who is unable to pay, according to Penny Gardner, executive director.
Natsas benefited from a new dental-hygiene program that began at the center June 28. Densmore noted that people with no dental insurance need the services offered by Mercy.
"They tend to neglect their dental care," she said, adding that poor dental health has been linked to such diseases as diabetes and heart ailments.
The hygiene program will complement the dental services already offered for years by the center, Gardner said. According to the center’s newsletter, the hygiene program was funded by a number of donations, including a grant from the Academy of the Pierre Fauchard Foundation.
Volunteer dental hygienist Su Holmes works with retired dentist Dr. Ken Carroll and his wife, Muriel, at Mercy.
"I get a lot of things from God," Holmes said when asked why she volunteers. "I like to do something for others."
Meanwhile, the center launched in March a program to offer free mammography screenings and breast-health education to women. The program was funded in part by the Raskob Foundation and the Diocesan Catholic Charities Consistent Life Ethic Grant Fund. A mammography van from St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell visits the center on a monthly basis to provide mammograms to women, Gardner said. One such woman is Arrion Armstrong, a regular patient at the center. She noted that she was glad she didn’t have to travel to another site to get her mammogram.
"All my charts are here," she said.
Sister Barbara Moore, RSM, assists women getting mammograms and said the program is crucial for women like Armstrong.
"I think that underserved, uninsured folks struggle to get preventative health care, and mammography saves lives," she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn more about Mercy Outreach Center, visit www.mercyoutreachcenter.org, or call 585/288-2634.