Chris Ormsby, BSN, RN, had the initial vision for a free, faith-based dental clinic in 2009. While working as a school nurse, Chris assessed a 6-year-old who came into the school office complaining that his mouth hurt. His face attested to the pain caused by his multiple deep cavities, which were easily visible to Chris. His mother had talked with the two “inexpensive” dental offices another nurse had referred her to, only to learn that they would only take her son as a patient if she paid $300 up front. His family could not afford that, and he was without an option for dental care. That evening Chris attended a meeting during which a speaker from Florida talked about Christian outreach services to under-served people. This was the first time Chris heard of free dental clinics. At such a place, the little boy and his family could receive treatment! Chris determined to pursue establishing a free dental clinic in the Reno/Sparks area. In 2010, Shari Byrnes, a nationally Certified Dental Assistant, joined Chris as co-founder and they recruited others from multiple churches who believed in the mission to establish Compassion Community Clinic. A planning team of 13 people organized in 2011 and conducted an informal community needs assessment, which revealed that the greatest healthcare gap in Northern Nevada was provision of adult dental care. By that time, children did have a truly low-cost access to dental care.
Compassion Community Clinic would not be here today without Shari Brynes (left), Chris Ormsby (right) and media volunteer Jessica Garcia (below).
Planning team members visited a few existing free clinics in other locales to gain knowledge about operations and governance. In 2012, the Board of Directors was formed and CC Clinic was awarded 501(c)3 status. The Board adopted bylaws, policies and procedures. Monetary and in-kind donations were solicited from various community organizations, churches, dentists and other individuals. A three-year $30,000 grant from Wheat Ridge Ministries was sought and awarded.
In March 2013, CC Clinic’s Board signed a lease for a vacated dental office. The former occupant donated most of the large dental equipment to CC Clinic. Although the equipment was old, it did function and allowed the clinic to open. Volunteers made renovations to the dental suite – all with donated materials – and stocked the clinic before CC Clinic opened in December 2013. Three dentists, three dental hygienists, two dental assistants and four non-dental volunteers staffed the clinic the first six months. Chris Ormsby served as Interim Executive Director until June 2014, when the Board hired Kathy Secrist as a part-time Executive Director. Until 2016, Ms. Secrist was the only paid staff member. In 2016, a Clinic Administrator was hired, followed by a part-time Volunteer Coordinator. In 2019, the Executive Director and Clinic Administrator positions became full-time, and a part-time Patient Coordinator joined CC Clinic staff. There are more exciting things to come!