Dental Care in Big Demand at Free LA Health Clinic

By CHRISTINA HOAG | October 20, 2011 | 1:14 PM EDT

Patients receive free dental care at a free health clinic sponsored by CareNow at the Los Angeles Sports Arena Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. More than 800 health care professionals are volunteering their time Thursday through Sunday to provide medical, dental and eye care. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles (AP) — Avery Shapiro has no dental insurance, Pat Morris has limited dental coverage, Chenell Bass's state disability doesn't cover eyeglasses.

Such stories are common among the first 1,200 people receiving free medical, dental and vision care Thursday morning at a huge health clinic set up in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Clinic organizer Don Manelli, president of nonprofit CareNow, says more than 60 percent of the patients need dental care. Vision services are the next biggest category.

The clinic, staffed by more than 800 medical volunteers, expects to treat a total of 5,000 uninsured and underinsured people over the next four days.

After treatment, patients will be referred to local medical centers that have offered to provide free follow-up care to the patients.