An annual free dental care clinic will be held in northwest Iowa this fall. The Iowa Dental Association has selected Sioux City for the two-day clinic known as the “Mission of Mercy.”

Since 2008, that event has traveled around Iowa, providing 4,500 patients with approximately $2.5 million in free care.

Sioux City native Dr. Dick Hettinger is the state chair for the Iowa Mission of Mercy. He says the clinic has always been held in central or eastern Iowa. “We brought it to Sioux City because we have not been on this side of the state, that’s the biggest reason,” Hettinger said.

“We’re kind of looking at this as a tri-state event. We’re right across from Nebraska and South Dakota. We anticipate that we’ll have patients and volunteers from both of those states.” Patients are seen on a first come, first serve basis. There are no income eligibility requirements.

“The need is obviously pretty widespread. Any town, right now, we could go into and find more than enough people to populate our clinic for more days than we could be open,” Hettinger said. “With the unemployment and the cutbacks in insurance in a number of companies, it’s just not too hard to find people who need to be taken care of.”

At last year’s event in Cedar Rapids, about 1,000 dental professionals donated their services. This year, the clinic will be held November 18 and 19 at the Tyson Center in Sioux City.

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