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FHC Dental Care Centers Participate in Program for Afghan Children

| Date Posted: 7/1/2013

PINEHURST – When representatives of the Moore County Solace for the Children International chapter were seeking local medical resources for six visiting Afghan children, they had an easy choice for dental care.

“Dr. Sharon Harrell is the reason we asked FirstHealth to participate,” says David Bruton, M.D., a retired pediatrician and former FirstHealth board member.

Sharon Harrell, DDS, MPH

Sharon Harrell, DDS, MPH, welcomes five of the six Afghan children who are visiting Moore County to the FirstHealth Dental Care Center in Southern Pines. The children, who are in the area through the local Solace for Children chapter, will get routine dental care.

Dr. Harrell and her staff were happy to oblige. “Our mission is to care for people,” she says. “At the Dental Care Centers, we take care of underserved children every day. Helping these children just fits into our mission.”

The nonprofit Solace for the Children is dedicated to helping children from war-torn countries with a goal of building peace on a foundation of health. Its current focus is on children in Afghanistan, where the patient-to-physician ratio is about 50,000 to 1 and most children have little or no opportunity for even basic health care.

The young Afghan visitors to Moore County arrived on June 21 and began their stay by acclimating to American culture and their host families.

“The first night we had a lot of tears, but the next day everything was good,” says Bart Clark, organizer of the local Solace for Children chapter. “There were trips to the pool and plenty of fun activities.”

During their six-week stay, five of the six children staying in Moore County will probably need routine care only. The sixth may need more extensive care.

Last week, all of the children visited local doctors and dentists for assessments of their overall health. Their care is being provided for at no cost, and they are getting their dental care at the FirstHealth center in Southern Pines.

The FirstHealth Dental Care Centers specialize in dental care for underprivileged children, so the staff was happy to offer the same care for their visiting patients.

“We will give them dental exams, X-rays, cleanings and fluoride treatments,” Dr. Harrell says. “And then provide any additional care needed.”

She said the decision to help was an easy one.

“Whether the children come from Afghanistan, Vass or Southern Pines, we are here to help,” she says. “We have lots of experience helping needy children. It’s just that none of them have come quite this far for treatment.”

FirstHealth of the Carolinas has Dental Care Centers in Raeford and Troy as well as in Southern Pines.

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