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WORD OF MOUTH

Clinic offering free dental care growing

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Dental assistant Mandy Normam (left) and Dr. Frank Bald (right) work on extracting a tooth from veteran and patient Dempsey Griffin, 55, during a free dental clinic for veterans at Morgan Family Dentistry in Coinjock, Friday morning.

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By Chris Day
Multimedia Editor

Sunday, November 10, 2019

COINJOCK — A popular free dental clinic for veterans may be proof that word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

“It was a good day,” said Dr. Pat Morgan, of Morgan Family Dentistry, located at 153 Worth Guard Road in Coinjock.

Friday marked the fifth year in a row the clinic has been held and by 10:30 a.m., as many as 19 veterans were already seated in the waiting room. In the first two hours the family practice had already drawn more veterans than last year’s event, which served a total of 18 patients.

“I’m just glad to see it growing,” Morgan said.

On Friday, doctors Morgan, his son David Morgan and Frank Bald and their staffs provided about $27,000 in free treatment to 22 veterans, Morgan said. The work included 58 extractions, 43 X-rays, 14 fillings, 6 alveolectomies and one scaling procedure.

Marine Corps veteran and Elizabeth City resident Mike Horne accounted for two of those extractions.

“Well, I thought I was getting one tooth pulled, but they’re going to pull two,” he said, before his surgery.

For Horne, the clinic was a way to not only alleviate any pain he was feeling in his mouth but also potential pain in his wallet.

“It’s awesome money-wise,” said Horne, who also attended last year’s clinic. “It’s not coming out of your pocket.”

Horne said he arrived at the clinic early to get a good jump on the waiting time, only to find out he was patient number 11 to sign in.

“I don’t mind that at all,” he said, of the hour or so wait before he could be seen. “We did a lot of hurry up and waiting in the Marine Corps.”

Friday morning brought brisk temperatures and a breeze that seemed to heighten the chill. That didn’t stop Samuel Guglielmini Jr. from riding his motorcycle from Elizabeth City to have a tooth removed.

“I think it’s a great service that they’re doing for sure,” the Navy veteran said.

Guglielmini said he heard about the clinic from his Veterans Administration representative in Elizabeth City. He enjoyed the free service so much that he plans to return to Morgan Family Dentistry as a regular patient.

“I’m actually going to sign up to be a new patient of them,” he said.

Justin Kirby, 23, an Army veteran, made the drive from Wanchese. He was attending the clinic for the first time after hearing about it from his father’s friend.

Kirby echoed past veterans’ comments when he said he appreciated the free clinic because it eliminated an otherwise trip to a VA facility for similar treatment.

Kirby served in the infantry and saw tours throughout Eastern Europe, to include Poland.

Each year on the Friday before Veterans Day, Morgan Family Dentistry closes to regular business to host the clinic, which starts at 8:30 a.m. and typically ends around 3 p.m.

Pat Morgan, whose father was in the Army for 20 years, has said before that he, his son and Bald started the clinic after identifying a need for it in the Coinjock area. On Friday, Morgan’s message was the same when commenting on the clinic’s growing popularity among area veterans.

“It means that there is a great need out there and we’re pleased to take care of that need, especially after the service they’ve given us,” he said.

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