Amber Werner drove 110 miles and waited nearly 15 hours to see a dentist at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake -- and she couldn't have been happier about how her Friday went.
Werner was among scores of patients who took advantage of free dental, medical and vision care at the fairgrounds. The Illinois State Dental Society Foundation and CURE Network are co-hosting what's called the Mission of Mercy, which was set to resume at 6 a.m. today.
"This is just a large-scale example of what we're doing every day in our offices," said Dr. Alice Boghosian, a Niles dentist. "This is going on every day in our offices. Now, we have just come together and done it as a group."
At least 2,000 patients are projected to visit the Mission of Mercy over the two days. While anyone is eligible to visit, an estimated $1 million in dental and medical services will have been given primarily to adults and children who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise can't secure treatment.
Spread across the fairgrounds' exposition building are dental chairs for checkups, a makeshift laboratory, sterilization equipment and an area to produce eyeglasses. Roughly 1,500 volunteer dentists, hygienists, physicians, nurses, optometrists, dental students and other professions are participating.
Werner, 28, her husband and a friend drove from Ottawa and arrived at the fairgrounds at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. They camped out overnight and were the first three in line when the doors opened at 6 a.m. Friday.
Until Friday, Werner had not received a dental exam for about five years. She said she had a tooth extracted and received a filling, as well as a Pap smear in a private medical area.
"I would definitely recommend people to come through," said Werner, her mouth still a bit puffy from the extraction. "They're very efficient, friendly and very nice people."
Dr. John Hagenbruch of Harvard, a volunteer dentist, said one patient hadn't received dental work for 16 years. Hagenbruch said the woman told him she's been unable to afford to a dentist visit.
"She was trying to brush and floss, but of course, things in that amount of time are going to happen," Hagenbruch said during a break. "She didn't have anything real, real serious. A couple of things that it was timely to do them."
Greg Johnson, executive director of the Illinois State Dental Society, said the Mission of Mercy at the Lake County Fairgrounds was the second time the organization has collaborated on a volunteer clinic. The first was in downstate Bloomington two years ago.
Officials said dental care is focusing on cleanings, extractions and fillings. Basic medical screenings include high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, breast examinations and the Pap smear.
Volunteers spent about 10 hours Thursday transforming the expo building into a venue suitable for dental, vision and medical care.
Care: Some patients hadn't had dental work in years