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Nature Coast Ministries dental clinic is available to help Citrus County residents in need. Thanks to contributions from generous members of the community, Nature Coast Ministries is able to offer the services completely free of charge. Each patient receives the same high quality service they would at a for profit office. The goal is to minimize and eliminate unnecessary pain or to help appearance improve appearance and employability.

Sue Grable compares Nature Coast Ministries' finances to a seesaw.

“We’re either way up or way down,” said Grable, recruiter of dental professionals. “We have too heavy of a load of patients and not enough dental professionals to help them.” 

First, some good news:

—From its inception in 2014, Nature Coast Ministries has done 2,944 dental procedures — including extractions, cleanings and fillings.

—The value of those procedures total $502,921 — what it would have cost those people if they had paid out of pocket. And that doesn’t include the value of the hours donated by the agency’s volunteers.

Nature Coast Ministries is a faith-based nonprofit that gets its financial and volunteer support from the community. It provides free dental care to the poor, underserved and local veterans.

“Since February of this year we have been and are being tested — our pocketbooks, that is,” Grable said. “Nothing is free.”

It’s been a litany of problems recently.

“We lost water while we were working on patients, lost air and water to our patient chairs,” she said. “Our air conditioning unit went out. Our delivery truck with our hardworking volunteers aboard was struck from behind while waiting at a red light on County Road 486 and Essex.”

But here’s some good news: Eagle Buick provided them with a new truck, she said.

More good news:

—In June, the Citrus County Community Charitable Foundation gave the agency $23,115, a financial boost to help continue its mission and to fund a new program in which local emergency rooms refer patients needing dental work to Nature Coast.

That was much-needed infusion of cash for the agency.

“It costs $5,000 to $7,000 a month to keep us going,” said Sue Grable, recruiter of dental professionals.

Grable, who taught at Crystal River High School’s health academy from 2003-14, called dental care in Citrus County “a huge need.” 

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or mbates@chronicleonline.com.

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