New clinic to provide health, dental services to homeless and poor

"It is important to feed the hungry and house the homeless, but it is equally important to provide those necessities that lift the spirit and instill self-confidence," President Thomas S. Monson said Aug. 4 at the grand opening of a new clinic that will provide health and dental services to the homeless and poor.

The Wasatch Homeless Health and Salt Lake Donated Dental Services Clinic at 404 S. 400 West will provide primary health care, dental services, dermatology, podiatry and ophthalmology care to as many as 5,000 homeless people during 1993. The building housing the clinic was donated by Intermountain Health Care (IHC), an organization that operates 21 hospitals in the western United States.President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, represented the Church at the opening of the clinic.

He expressed appreciation to "all who helped make available these facilities for those in need." He mentioned particularly Dr. Ralph Montgomery, a Salt Lake dentist whose volunteer work was the genesis for the dental clinic at the new facility. (See related article on this page.)

In a Church News interview, President Monson spoke of the cooperative effort of volunteers, the community, businesses and other organizations to make possible facilities such as the new clinic. "Through this cooperative effort we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute the strength of many working together," he said. "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is pleased to be a partner in this worthwhile endeavor."

The Church contributed about $74,000 to buy new equipment to augment existing and donated materials. Allan Bell of IHC designed the floor plan, which includes a lobby and waiting area, a four-chair dental clinic, space for optometrists and ophthalmologists, a procedure room and eight patient examining rooms. Clinical Research Associates provided sterilization equipment. Doctors and dentists volunteer to staff the clinic, which was dedicated to Pamela J. Atkinson, vice president of mission services for IHC.

It was in recognition of her work and assistance in development of the clinic that the clinic was dedicated in her honor. A member of the Presbyterian Church, she has lived in Salt Lake City a little more than six years. "I firmly believe that everyone is equal - different, but equal," she told the Church News. "We have to accept those differences. I feel that even a small amount of caring can make a difference in the lives of the homeless. We may not give a lot to homeless people, but we get back much in return. Little things can make a difference - toiletry items, sleeping bags, things we take for granted. We seem to have so much in our lives; if we could share that, it would make for a better life for everyone, including ourselves."

She described Salt Lake City as "a good environment," where people, once they are made aware of problems, tend to get involved. "During the past two years, I've been going around talking to a lot of LDS groups about the homeless and low-income families," she said. "I try to help people understand who the homeless and poor are, and tell some personal anecdotes. I tie everything in scripturally. People are surprised that I quote the Book of Mormon, but I think King Benjamin has some marvelous sayings on service that apply to all of us. I encourage everybody to read the Book of Mosiah, to learn more about it. And I really like the seventh chapter of Moroni, where the definition of charity is given as the pure love of Christ.

"I'm so impressed with members of the LDS Church who get out there and really get involved. There are literally hundreds of LDS members who are making a difference in lives with the projects they're involved in."

At the clinic's grand opening, Dr. Chase Peterson, former president of the University of Utah and a member of the Wasatch Homeless Health Program, was master of ceremonies. Others participating in the ceremony were Deedee Corradini, mayor of Salt Lake City; the Rev. Terence Moore, director of Catholic Community Services, Salt Lake Catholic Diocese; Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., senior vice president of IHC; Elizabeth Heath and Susan Read, chairman of the board and executive director, respectively, of Salt Lake Community Health Center; and Allan Ainsworth, director of Wasatch Homeless Health Program.

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