Between 150 and 200 people took part in the two-day free health clinic hosted by AZ SonShine, a ministry of the Arizona Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists. The clinic was Friday and Saturday, July 23 and 24 at Julia Randall Elementary.
Medical services from general testing, eye exams, dental exams and dentures were offered by more than a dozen providers. All the services, plus child care and food were free. Donations and grants fund the program.
AZ SonShine has offered the free clinics throughout the state for at least six years. It first came to Payson in 2019, COVID-19 kept it away in 2020, but it made its return this year and plans are already being made to return next year.
Upon arrival, participants went to a triage area to share what services they want or need. If the provider was free, the participant was escorted to the service area.
Two ophthalmologists took part, one specializing in children from birth to 5 years of age and the other for older children and adults. The event did not have as many dentists take part as expected, so AZ SonShine gave more than 80 vouchers out for residents to see local providers for services.
Participants came not only from the Rim Country, but also from Holbrook, Flagstaff, Prescott and the Valley.
Vendors included the Gila County Health and Emergency Management Department, Northland Cares, ophthalmologists, three dentists, denturists, and three medical doctors. There were also church leaders participating to provide counseling to anyone interested. All donated their time and skills for the clinic.
The dedication of the providers to the program was clear when they took two to three hours to do a dental exam, denture molds and sending the participants away with the finished dentures they needed.
On Friday, Mayor Tom Morrissey and Gila County District 1 Supervisor Steve Christensen were given a tour of the venue.
Organizers were thrilled with the turnout and all the great people they met — participants and vendors.
“All we ask for is a smile,” said Betsy Starner, the event’s local coordinator.
For more information, visit www.arizonasonshine.com.