Dental Van returns to serve low-income Vashon resident

The Dental Van, which provides free dental care to people with low incomes, will be on Vashon twice next week, offering services to children and adults, thanks in part to a grant from Granny’s Attic.

The $10,000 grant is double what Granny’s Attic provided last year, according to Hilary Emmer, who applied for the funds from the Granny’s board and has been instrumental in the dental van service on the Island.

“I’m ecstatic,” Emmer said.

For many years the thrift store provided funds only to the Vashon Health Center, but in recent years the board has supported other health-related needs on the Island, according to board President Janet Kime.

“Granny’s Attic has been delighted to provide most of the funding for the adult dental van trips since 2010,” Kime said. “We know how important dental health is, and there is a great need for low-cost care.”

The van, operated by the nonprofit Medical Teams International, has made multiple trips to the Island in recent years, but first began offering services for children last year. The van has been popular for both children and adults, according to Emmer, who is now scheduling people for visits.

The van will be on Vashon Oct. 10 and 11, she noted, but currently only has openings for children ages 2 to 18.

“The van has really addressed a need on the Island,” she said.

Last Thursday, Emmer sent out a notice on VashonAll stating that the van was coming, and within 24 hours, 10 people had requested appointments, three of whom had urgent situations, she said. While the next week’s schedule for adults is full, she encourages people who need dental care to call her and get in the queue for future van visits.

The schedule follows a modified school year, beginning in September and ending in July, with no visits in August. This year, she said, the van will visit six times for children and 16 times for adults. The children’s service has been focused on both preventative and acute care, while the adult service has been focused on addressing dental crises, Emmer noted. This year, the van for adults will come to the Island five more times than in past years, and Emmer said she is hopeful they will be able to begin to address some preventative needs in adults as well as take care of dental emergencies.

While the company that provides the van is a nonprofit, the cost to bring the van to the Island carries a hefty price tag: $800 per trip, with ferry fare an additional cost. Grants from Granny’s Attic, the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness and other groups and individuals have covered the cost of the van, according to Emmer, but adults who receive services are asked to donate if they are able to cover the cost of ferry fare.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about the van, call Emmer at 463-7277.


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