Dental care available at arena Friday, Saturday

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch talks to volunteers as they turn the Webster Bank Arena at Habor Yard into a temporary dental clinic, with more than 120 chairs, for Connecticut Mission of Mercy. Free treatment will be available, first-come, first-served, starting at 6 a.m. Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8. (John Kovach Photo)

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch talks to volunteers as they turn the Webster Bank Arena at Habor Yard into a temporary dental clinic, with more than 120 chairs, for Connecticut Mission of Mercy. Free treatment will be available, first-come, first-served, starting at 6 a.m. Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8. (John Kovach Photo)

Thousands are expected to line up outside the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8. But they won’t be watching their favorite teams or buying concert tickets.

Wendy Kelsey spends a day off from work at the New Haven Dental Group setting up Mission of Mercy's mobile dental clinic at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. Free dental care will be available Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8. (John Kovach Photo)

Wendy Kelsey spends a day off from work at the New Haven Dental Group setting up Mission of Mercy’s mobile dental clinic at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. Free dental care will be available Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8. (John Kovach Photo)

Connecticut Mission of Mercy will provide free dental care on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6 a.m., both days.

Today, (Thursday), volunteers were busy inside setting up a mobile dental hospital.

“I took the day off,” Wendy Kelsey of the New Haven Dental Group said as she carried boxes filled with medical supplies near what is usually the key for basketball games and the goalie’s crease for ice hockey. It’s an annual exercise for Mission of Mercy.

Bridgeport will be the sixth location in Connecticut according to Dr. Robert Schreibman of Glastonbury, a pediatric dentist who established Mission of Mercy Connecticut after seeing a presentation at a dental conference. He now heads the foundation that oversees the operation.

“This is a 121-chair clinic,” Schreibman said as the clinic took shape on the arena floor. “We can do fillings, cleanings, extractions and root canals.”

Previous clinics have been held in Tolland, New Haven, Middletown, Waterbury and Danbury, Schreibman said. Connecticut was the seventh state to start Mission of Mercy; there are now 24. Rhode Island is the only other New England state, he added.

“Last year they served 2,008 people,” William Kaempffer, Bridgeport police and fire spokesman, said of the Connecticut effort.

Most of those who seek treatment are the uninsured and working poor, Schreibman said. Anyone may attend.

“It’s too bad we have to have mobile dental clinics,” Schreibman also added.

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