Giving his time and talents to the free clinic…
For over 35 years I practiced dentistry as a general dentist. After retiring, I was approached in 1997 by the medical director of Good News Clinics (free health care clinic) concerning the start up of a program to address dental needs of the medical patients at the Good News Clinic. Physicians were already treating medical needs, but many patients were experiencing dental pain caused by abscesses and severe neglect of dental care. It would be up to me to organize the dental program and ask dentist to donate their time and talents.
Dr. Lee Hawkins, whom I had known since 1978, was one of the first calls I made as I tried to recruit dentists to volunteer their time at the dental clinic to see patients. Lee immediately said, “Yes!” and has continued since then to donate his day off to see patients at the clinic. One patient that Lee helped was a man in his early forties who had been diagnosed with cancer. His oncologist could not proceed with radiation until all his teeth had been extracted. Lee worked with him to get all his teeth extracted, spending his entire day treating this one patient. Others have been treated who had missed several days of work, but after Dr. Hawkins treatment were able to return to work.
I wish you could see the expression on the faces of those he has served, their gratitude is apparent in their yes and in their sincere thanks as they leave the clinic having received care they thought they could never have, because they did not have the money to pay for care.
While serving in the Georgia State Senate, Senator Hawkins took his concern for those most in need to a statewide level. Under his leadership, all free clinics in Georgia were able to access free malpractice insurance for paid nurse practitioners and physician assistants for their staff, saving clinics and taxpayers thousands of dollars. In order to encourage dentists and physicians to donate their time and expertise to free clinics serving the uninsured, Senator Hawkins worked with the Medical and Dental State Boards to allow volunteer dentists and physicians to accrue hours toward continuing education by serving in a free clinic. Last year free clinics – helped by Senator Lee Hawkins – saved Georgia taxpayers over $16,000,000.
Lee Hawkins truly listens to his constituents so that he can determine how he can best serve his community and state.
Dr. Ed Burnette DDS
Director, Green Warren Dental Clinic