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Fair workers get medical, dental care
Ogeechee Technical College dental assistant student Heather Raby, right, encourages Amusements of America employee Herbert Mathis to continue his dental care after visiting the mobile dentistry unit sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Statesboro Wednesday. Mathis, of Columbus, Ohio, has been an employee of the carnival company for six months.
    In what has become an annual fair tradition, the First Baptist Church of Statesboro is again sponsoring a dental trailer and medical tent for the workers at the Ogeechee Fair. Free of charge, the workers will be able to obtain basic dental care at the trailer, such as fillings and extractions, as well as some primary medical check-ups.
    Ricky Allen, Minister of Education at First Baptist, said the overall project is run by First Baptist, but they get help from Pittman Park Methodist Church and Ogeechee Technical College. He said last year they provided dental care to 47 individuals.
    "We also have an arrangement with the health department, for children to get their vaccinations," said Allen. "It's really ended up being a big community effort. We've had a lot of help from a lot of different community organizations. We don't take all the credit - we want to give credit where credit is due."
    The Mobile Dental Unit is owned and operated by the Georgia Baptist Convention Language Missions Department.
    Tim Allen is the driver and coordinator of the mobile unit and has been all over Georgia providing the free service. November marks the end of his third year of involvement with the dental trailer.
    "We do four Georgia fairs a year," said Allen. "Most of the time we go to migrant camps, to churches where they have health fairs set up, battered women's shelters, homeless shelters.
    "God just led me into this ministry. I was looking for something to do and this is what he gave me. It's been great, I've really enjoyed it."
    Though the unit is stocked and supplied by the convention, the church is responsible for staffing the unit, using local dentists and their staff, as well as OTC dental assistant students.
    Heather Raby is one of the student volunteers from OTC.
    "I've been taking blood pressure and x-rays," said Raby,"then Sofia, the other volunteer from Ogeechee Tech, has been doing a lot of the sterilization of equipment."
    Wednesday, the trailer and the volunteers provided dental care for 11 fair workers. Another full day of patients is slated for today.
    This year, dentists Ricky Lane and Lef Kicklighter donated their time on Wednesday. Thursday, Jack Proctor and Joe Griffin will man the unit and Friday morning, Richard Marz will use the unit before it moves to its next location Friday afternoon. In addition, any children that needed dental care were taken by volunteers over to the office of John Wasdin, a local pediatric dentist. Steed Tompson performed the dental screenings Tuesday.
    Another service provided for the workers by the church is medical tent, coordinated by First Baptist's church nurse. First Baptist has a nursing ministry, run by Jane Dekle, who helps seniors take their medications, gets them to doctor's appointments and basically acts as a home-health aide for members of the congregation.  
    She said Dr. Stanley Shin will be the doctor handling all the examinations.
    "There will be a tent set up near the dental unit for Dr. Shin to see patients," said Dekle. "They'll do examinations depending upon the people's need. I will act as his nurse and we'll also use some of the OTC nursing students.
    In past years, Pittman Park Methodist Church has provided a medical unit. They were unable to do so this year because their doctor, who runs the unit, was out of town. However, the church did provide a steak lunch on Tuesday for all the carnival workers.
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