Dr. Dan Branca and Teresa Posada Wilcher volunteered their time and dental skills during the soft opening of Beth-El’s brand new dental clinic.

By Amanda Boston

On November 3, the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry held a formal dedication and open house in honor of its brandnew dental clinic. With its soft opening in early October, the clinic has already served 13 patients and performed 16 procedures.

Based in Wimauma, the Beth-El Farmworker Ministry assists farmworkers and their families through hunger relief, education, health care and spiritual growth. On a weekly basis, it serves nearly 600 families through its food pantry program. With farmworkers struggling to feed mouths, most forgo dental health care.

The dental clinic is the first phase of Beth-El’s overarching plan to establish a comprehensive Health and Wellness Center located directly on its campus. By remodeling a portable building already on location and assistance from generous volunteers, the construction for the dental clinic was performed at cost. Eventually, the other portable buildings will be repurposed to accommodate a medical clinic and a legal assistance center.

Randy Talaski, a retired dental technician, installed the donated dental equipment. The dental clinic is a state-of-the-art dental facility open once a month on a first-come-first-serve basis for qualified adults. Volunteer dental professionals donate their time and services on Saturdays.

“The clinic is fully operational to do any procedure and the only thing restricting them is the funds,” explained Talaski, who is also a board member of the Beth-El dental clinic. “Right now, all our procedures are basic extractions and mainly just to get people out of pain. The goal is to get more funds so we can get into preventive care like cleanings and simple education.”

Talaski also commented on the importance of good oral health, “Mayo Clinic has a quote that says, ‘Good oral healthcare extends one’s life by ten years.’ Everything starts with oral health, so we are trying to get education material in Spanish to the community.”

For professionals who would like to volunteer or learn more, please contact Beth-El at 633-1548. To find out more about the ministry or donate, please visit http://beth-el.org. Beth-El is located at 18240 U.S. Hwy. 301 S. in Wimauma.