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Published: Saturday, 5/18/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

‘Stars, Stripes, Smiles’ helps veterans stay healthy

More than 100 receive free medical care from local dentist

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Navy veteran Terry Keller of Toledo receives dental care from Karen Knowles during the fourth annual Stars, Stripes and Smiles event at Hires Dental Care in Toledo. Navy veteran Terry Keller of Toledo receives dental care from Karen Knowles during the fourth annual Stars, Stripes and Smiles event at Hires Dental Care in Toledo.
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Hires Dental Care on West Sylvania Avenue was busy Friday, as more than 100 military veterans received basic dental care, eye exams, and blood pressure checks.

The reason was simple: to give back to military veterans for their service to our country.

The event, “Stars, Stripes and Smiles,” is in its fourth year and is a nonprofit initiative for the dental office.

Bill Davis, who formerly served in the Air Force, was all smiles after receiving dental services on Friday afternoon.

“It’s a great service for veterans,” Mr. Davis said. “These people are great. They give you everything you need.”

He said he attended the event previously and had been looking forward to it.

At the one-day event, the staff at Hires Dental Care offers dental services, including fillings, extractions, or cleanings, for service members.

In the past three years, the office has provided about 240 patients with dental care treatment, equal to an estimated $58,000.

But Friday, the goal was to reach 110 veterans.

By early afternoon, Kathy Atkinson, director of marketing and promotions at the office, said about 107 patients had been served.

Ms. Atkinson said the office teamed up with Dr. Tracey Needham, an optometrist, who performed eye screenings and checked for glaucoma. Nurses from ProMedica also helped by checking the blood pressure of the patients.

While Dr. Needham examined Toledo resident Lorenzo Layson, a former Marine, she explained that she was testing his eye pressure, one of several factors that indicates a higher risk of developing glaucoma.

“There are no symptoms. If you don’t have regular eye care, you’d never know that,” she said about glaucoma.

Ms. Atkinson said the waiting time from check-in to office chair, for veterans who attended the event, was between two and six hours.

All patients were given food and drinks while they waited.

Dr. J. Eric Hires, a dentist, said the support of the staff in his office made the event possible. Dr. Lauren Czerniak and Dr. T. Ryan Phipps, two other dentists who work in the office, also assisted, along with dental hygienists, assistants, and other volunteers.

“It’s fun and it’s a good thing,” Dr. Hires said. “It’s really rewarding. It really is a feel-good day. Everybody wins — for them and for us.”

The day was supported by donations from Hylant Group, SMB Construction, Waterford Bank, Chick-fil-A, SylvaniaVET, Henry Schein Inc., Vito’s Pizza, H.O.T. Printing and Graphics, and Kroger.

For more information about the nonprofit initiative, visit www.starsstripes-andsmiles.com.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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