Mobile dental clinic ransacked, equipment stolen
A 31-foot Winnebago outfitted for use as a mobile dental clinic was broken into and ransacked, with the burglars stealing a laptop and dental equipment ranging from forceps and drills to boxes of toothbrushes and toothpaste.
The van, funded by the Sierra Family Medical Clinic, is used for the Healthy Smiles program that provides preventative dental care for students in Nevada County.
The program is nonprofit and runs on a shoestring with donations. So it was devastating for the clinic’s staff — Dr. Kirsten Valentine and dental assistant Elyssa Farabee – to find the van had been burglarized Wednesday.
“It’s just so sad,” said Valentine. “All the equipment, every piece, is gone.”
The van is kept parked in the Salvation Army parking lot on Alta Street, and had not been used for several weeks due to spring break and some scheduling issues, Farabee said.
Valentine discovered the break-in Wednesday when she stopped by to get some paperwork and found the door had been pried open.
“Everything was upside-down, the drawers and cabinets were open, there was stuff all over the ground,” Farabee said.
Thursday, the two women were still trying to inventory the losses.
They discovered that their laptop, which contains imaging software, was missing from a previously locked cabinet that had been smashed open.
A sensor that takes digital X-rays worth thousands of dollars initially was thought to have been stolen as well.
But late Thursday, Farabee said, they found it outside, under the van.
The items that were reportedly stolen included drills and burrs, needles and syringes and gloves, as well as the boxes of toothbrushes and toothpaste, a large bottle of ibuprofen and about 20 children’s DVDs, Farabee said.
“It looks like they dumped the drawers and stuffed everything into bags,” she said.
Healthy Smiles serves schools in Nevada County with a significant number of lower-income students; the program saw 1,900 students and logged 5,000 visits in 2009.
The mobile clinic spends anywhere from one hour to one month at a school, depending on the number of children to be served.
All the students in the school are eligible and the free services include individual toothbrushing instruction, a screening exam, and fluoride and sealant treatment.
“It’s pretty traumatizing,” Farabee said of the burglary. “It’s just heartbreaking.”
Anyone who wishes to donate items to restock the van can call the clinic at 530-292-3478.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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