As focus expands, Hope Medical Dental Clinic seeks volunteers

The front office staff includes volunteers Sharron Brittingham and Tetyana Krestian with receptionist Eileen Smith. Submitted photos

DOVER — When Tanya Krestian’s mother’s health took a turn for the worse 10 years ago, they didn’t know where to go to for help.

“She had no medical coverage and was being denied on the grounds of preexisting conditions and other reasons, and was not eligible for any governmental support,” Ms. Krestian said. “Financially, she couldn’t afford any comprehensive medical care and did not even have a family doctor.”

Then, they found hope, literally.

Ms. Krestian’s mother received care at the Hope Medical Clinic in Dover, where residents without insurance can seek primary care health services.

In its 16th year, the facility has a new name and new logo — Hope Medical Dental Clinic Inc., but the heart of its mission remains the same.

The Association of Filipino American Physicians of Delaware founded the clinic at 1125 Forrest Ave. Suite 202, in 2003.

Co-founders Basilio N. Bautista, M.D., Jose C. Pamintuan, M.D., Venerando J. Maximo, M.D., and Vicenta G. Marquez, M.D. did so to provide uninsured Kent County residents with free, non-emergent medical and dental treatment. All employed professionals have licensed volunteers.

Dr. Venerando Maximo and Vicenta Marquez were prominent contributors to the clinic’s success.

Volunteer dentist Dr. Edward Sidel talks to a patient at the Hope Medical Dental Clinic Inc.

Dr. Maximo passed away in late 2017, but both the clinic and community still embrace his legacy.

“We changed the name of the clinic to reflect and honor the dedication of our dentists,” said Dr. Nisha Lodhavia, board treasurer of the clinic. “Over the past several years, we have seen an uptick in the number of dental services that we provide. The name Hope Medical Clinic did not accurately reflect the services we provide to the community.”

Mary Beth Parker, Hope Medical Dental Clinic Inc.’s newly elected executive director, said she is ecstatic to carry on the clinic’s legacy. She was elected by the board Oct. 10 while serving on a medical mission in Hispaniola.

“I am truly honored to be able to walk out my own purpose here at home by serving with the Hope Medical Dental Clinic Inc.,” Ms. Parker said.

The clinic’s mission is to provide free non-emergency primary medical and dental care to eligible adult residents in Delaware. Medical patients include adults ages 18 to 65.

The dental clinic treats adult patients, age 21 and over. All patients must meet income eligibility criteria to receive medical and dental treatments.

“Currently there is an 11-month waiting list for the dental services,” Ms. Parker said. “As you can probably guess, we are desperate for dentists and dental hygienists to volunteer with us.

“We want to increase the number of patients we see because we believe that any unhealthy individual in our community affects the health of our entire community. We do not receive federal funding and we operate from grants and donations. Non-medical volunteers can help us get the word out to donors and patients.”

The Hope clinic not only helped Ms. Krestian’s mother but a close friend of hers as well. Afterwards she knew she wanted to help out in any way she could.

“Those events deeply touched my heart and inspired me to volunteer and give back to the clinic and the community,” Ms. Krestian said. “I was presented with an opportunity to give back to the place that played a crucial role in saving my mother’s life.”

Ms. Krestian is now a clinic volunteer administrative assistant.

“Though my contribution is small, I know I am privileged to volunteer in one place where my help is needed,” she said. “Whether it’s giving my time here at the office or submitting an item for an upcoming fundraiser, it simply feels good to give back. It is important always to give back, and I enjoy doing it.”

The Hope Medical Dental Clinic is always looking for new volunteers.

Volunteer dental hygienist JoAnn Moore.

“Four of our local practicing dentists and dental assistants volunteer four to eight hours per month, and our medical staff encompasses a seasoned Nurse Practitioner and RN, who also volunteer four to eight hours per month,” said Eileen Smith, clinic executive assistant.

“We continue to seek additional practitioners to meet the demands of the uninsured and under-insured here in Delaware. We are pleased to have acquired several talented and skilled administrative volunteers over the past few months. All of our high-caliber volunteers provide valued services to our clinic, and we are tremendously proud of our growing team.”

Ms. Krestian said she believes the facility is vital to the Dover community.

“For many years now, Hope Medical Dental Clinic, Inc. has been giving hope and providing medical services to the residents of Kent County just like my mother and like my friend,” Ms. Krestian said.

“Someone who cannot afford any medical care and who doesn’t qualify for governmental support can benefit from the medical services of this unique clinic. I truly believe it is vitally important to support the efforts of hope and its volunteers.”