Brunswick free clinic expands with new facility

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BRUNSWICK — Oasis Free Clinics, a nonprofit that provides free medical, mental-health, and dental care to uninsured, low-income residents, has moved into a new, expanded facility.

The organization was founded in 1995 with the mission of providing health and dental care for free for people who could not pay or did not have insurance.

More than 20 years later, Oasis is supported by more than 60 volunteer physicians, physician assistants, mental health professionals, dentists, nurses and nurse practitioners.

The clinic provided the equivalent of $134,000 in free dental services to 166 patients with its bi-weekly dental clinic last year, Oasis reported. It served 751 uninsured adults with primary care, mental health, or dental services, and secured the equivalent of $1 million in free or reduced cost prescriptions.

But until this week, the clinic had been operating in a small, outdated facility off Baribeau Drive. Volunteer dentists held clinics twice a month at the Jesse Albert Memorial Dental Center in Bath.

Now, thanks to the support of Midcoast-Parkview Health, the United Way of Midcoast Maine, and numerous private donations and grants, Oasis is moving all its services into a new, modern facility downstairs from its old one.

On May 17, Clinical Director Andree Appel walked the halls of the new clinic after the first official day at the new location.

She showed off a brand new Panorex machine – a piece of equipment that essentially takes panoramic X-rays of a patient’s mouth.

The Panorex alone cost $28,000, she said. “(But) … it’s the future of dentistry,” she added.

The new clinic hosts two dental suites, and two rooms for primary care. There are also offices for Oasis volunteers and staff.

Appel said the next step is to expand the number of people Oasis can see. The clinic now serves residents from Freeport, Durham, Brunswick, Harpswell and Sagadohoc County who are at or below 175 percent of the federal poverty line and do not have health insurance.

She said they’d like to be able to see patients who have some form of health insurance, such as MaineCare, but lack dental.

Walking the freshly painted rooms decorated with photos of Maine landscapes, it would be hard to believe the doctors’ office receives no money through insurance, the state, or federal governments.

Appel said the effect has not been lost on her patients.

“When they see (the new facility), they think, ‘Oh, you are for real,'” she said. “And this is for us.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Oasis Clinical Director Andree Appel demonstrates a new Panorex machine, which takes panoramic X-rays of a patient’s mouth, at the new Oasis Clinic at 66 Baribeau Drive, Brunswick.

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.