By Dave Crawley

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Instead of athletes, the Palumbo Center was filled with dentists Friday to offer free dental care.

They wait in line to enter Pittsburgh’s largest temporary dental office. Friday and Saturday, Duquesne University’s Palumbo Center is the site of free dental care for hundreds of adults and children who otherwise can’t afford it. Face2Face Healing was founded by Dr. Daniel Pituch, DMD, and Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh.

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“We have physicians here who are volunteering their time with medical screening,” Dr. Pituch says. “We have nurses, PAs. In the pharmacy, UPMC donated all the medications.”

The patients are receiving tooth extractions, fillings, and most important, cancer screenings. And all at no cost to them. Expenses are handled by donations from private companies and organizations.

Nurse Karen Scuilli co-founded Face2Face Healing, after oral cancer treatment saved her life, but left her disfigured.

“We actually started doing oral cancer screening to prevent patients from getting, or getting diagnosed earlier, for oral cancer screening,” she says. “So if they had to go through surgery, it wouldn’t be as disfiguring.”

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Dr. Eugene Myers, professor of medicine at Pitt, was a nearly pioneer in free oral cancer screening.

“It’s based on my experience with surgically taking care of patients with very advanced cancers,” he says. “And I wanted to be able to try to catch these cancers before they got so big that they weren’t curable.”

Darlene Allen of McKeesport has a sensitive tooth that’s been bothering her for some time. Before she knows it, Dr. Pituch has removed it. She rewards him with a hug, which is all the compensation he needs.

The dental clinic will be held from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

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