By CARL MARIO NUDI
Volunteers are the backbone of success for many charitable nonprofit organizations. “Absent volunteers, many charitable nonprofits would not be able to conduct programs, raise funds, or serve clients,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Council of Nonprofits website.
This is true for Genesis Health Services Inc., which opened a dental clinic in Palmetto on Aug. 3. “They are the only way we are sustained,” said James McCloud, president/CEO and founder of Genesis Health Services. “Volunteers are an important component of what we’re doing in Palmetto.”
That was the reason McCloud was putting out a call for volunteer dentists and hygienists to help at the new clinic, which provides affordable quality dental care to the community and is located at 707 Seventh St. W. “We need their help to be successful,” he said.
“Any dentist with a Florida or even an out-of-state license can help. They can work as much or as little as they’d like,” said McCloud, who founded Genesis Health Services in 1994 to fill a need for transitional housing for recovering substance abusers. He said dentists who have received an out-of-state license during the last 10 years can volunteer in Florida for a non-profit organization.
Morris Daniels, chief of operations for the Genesis agency and the dental Clinic in Palmetto, said dentists wanting to volunteer can stop by the clinic and take a tour to see what is being done to provide dental care to the community. “They can check out our Facebook page,” said Daniels, who began working for Genesis only two weeks before the dental clinic opened, “They can call and come in and talk to us.”
He said that in the first five days, the Palmetto office saw 40 patients for free dental examinations, and 20 of those are scheduled for follow-up visits. “And that’s just with one dentist,” he said. “The more (volunteer) dentists we get, the more patients we can see.”
The only dentist currently volunteering at the Palmetto clinic, Dr. Huguette Duteau, DDS, does everything just as she would in her (paid) practice, according to Daniels. Duteau practices holistic dentistry at White Sands Dentistry in Bradenton.
“She cares about the health of the patient,” Daniels said. “For instance, she uses no metal in the mouth and will remove metal fillings without the metal contacting the patient.”
According to the White Sands Dentistry website, Dr. Duteau, a native of Haiti, “loves giving back to her community, and this year marks the 12th year of her annual dental mission to her home country. “It is a part of her life’s passion to share her gifts and improve people’s lives through charitable work,” the website noted.
Daniels, who was an instructor at Meridian College in Lakewood Ranch, said the clinic also will partner with the college, which offers a dental assistant program, by having senior students do a rotation at the clinic as part of their studies.
He emphasized the importance of volunteers for the success of the program. “It’s amazing that James has been sustaining (Genesis) as a non-profit for 26 years,” Daniels said. “People have the heart to help the community.”
Although its housing program of Genesis was discontinued in 2002, when the need in the Manatee-Sarasota community was being filled by larger government-assisted programs, McCloud’s not-for-profit operation moved into other areas of health care.
Genesis has medical clinics, dental clinics, physician and dentist mentoring programs, the Breast, Examination and Referral Project (BEaR Project) and Project Unity/Gatekeepers, which is a community outreach in health education program.
When McCloud founded Genesis Health Services Inc. in 1994, there was a need for HIV care and substance abuse services in the black communities of Manatee and Sarasota counties. “HIV services were available for white males,” he said, “but lacking for blacks.”
McCloud, who at the time owned a paralegal services business, learned this when he was asked to help find housing for an HIV patient. “I met a judge who tried to get a person with HIV into a halfway house. I thought that would be easy to do, but all the places wouldn’t take him because he was a substance abuser. I didn’t know it would be so hard, and I got angry,” McCloud said.
So he started the nonprofit Genesis Health Services. “It was absolutely critical to provide healthcare services to the HIV infected,” he said. As time went on, he was spending more time running Genesis than his paralegal business, so the nonprofit became his life’s work. “This is more rewarding,” McCloud explained, and he then expanded into providing dental care 21 years ago. “I looked at the healthcare needs in the community, and dental continued to be one of the top needs in Manatee County.” He pointed out that a Manatee County advisory board study even showed dental care was at the top of the list of unmet needs.
Genesis does not receive any federal, state, or local government funding. “We’re supported by the community we service,” McCloud said. The agency has received grants from the Church of the Redeemer in Sarasota and the Cowle Foundation in New Jersey.
McCloud plans to build a sustainable community not-for-profit dental clinic in Palmetto. “It’ll be a model where we will still be able to see our community patients, still take care of the indigent, as well as making it a full service dental practice where we see insured patients on PPO plans,” Daniels said.
“That will allow us to offset the costs of seeing the community patients by bringing in the PPO patients as well.” Patients without insurance will pay a fixed fee for services, based on what it would cost if they did have insurance. “That would be 40-60% off,” Daniels said. “It’s like having insurance without having insurance.”
The Genesis Dental Clinic in Palmetto will offer new patient specials during the month of August. There are free dental examinations, which usually run about $80, and a dental plate special, costing only $350 per arch; it usually costs about $1,400.
The success of the clinic depends on the support of the community, which means more dentists volunteering to help, McCloud said. “One day a month can make a big difference.”
For more information on Genesis Health Services and the new dental clinic in Palmetto, visit its website at www.genesishealthagency.org, call 941-417-0067 or check out its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/genesishealthservicesinc/.