Kelowna’s Gospel Mission has celebrated the 10th anniversary of its dental clinic by expanding it to more than double its previous size.
The clinic, located in the Gospel Mission’s building on Leon Avenue, recently underwent a major renovation that added three more dental suites to the two already there.
The clinic serves the needs of low-income people in Kelowna, as well as the homeless, using the services of volunteer dentists and local dental office staff.
The clinic now has two dentists on staff making up one full-time equivalent position.
“We’ve been doing this for 10 years and we see this as the beginning of a new decade for dental services here,” said Gospel Mission executive director Randy Benson.
Benson said in addition to the volunteer services of close to 100 local dentists and dental office staff members over the last 10 years, the clinic has provided an estimated
$2 million in free dental services during that time.
He said the need to expand the clinic was recognized in recent years and thanks to generous donations from several unidentified donors, the renovations have been completed.
On Thursday, the new-look, larger clinic was officially opened.
While the mission is not revealing how much the work to expand the clinic cost, KGM staff say a large donation from a single donor helped foot the bill.
The mission is planning two fundraisers—one in September and another in October—to raise the $75,000 it still requires to pay for the project.
Over the years, the clinic has helped thousands of people, including the “working poor,” seniors, families and children.
It has become so busy that there is now a three- to four-month waiting list for services.
Dental services director Shirley Goebel said she hopes that with the addition of the three new suites and more volunteer staff, that waiting period can be reduced.
The clinic offers full dental services, including basic restorative care, pain and infection control, extractions and basic hygiene.
And the services provided are appreciated by those that use them.
“I needed dental work and I got it done here,” said John, a patient who moved to Kelowna from Victoria with his partner in 2010.
He said without the mission he would not have been able to get his two front teeth capped after breaking them.
While his partner has had more extensive work done at the clinic—work she could not get done in Victoria because she couldn’t afford it—John said the mission’s dental clinic has helped a lot of people like him.
Sitting in the new lobby of the clinic, he looked around wide-eyed, saying he could not believe how much larger it is now.
“They have done a tremendous job,” he said.