New clinic spreads smiles in the mountains

Feb 15, 2024
Dr. Rolfe McCoy serves students and staff from area mountain schools in the regions new dental clinic, established Los Montacitos, Dominican Republic by the Mission Office of the Diocese of Orlando. Inauguration of the clinic took place Feb. 6, 2024.

SAN JUAN DE LA MAGUANA, Dominican Republic | Thanks to a dentist who loves to give back, more than 100 other patients were treated after the grand opening of a new clinic in the sister diocese of San Juan de la Maguana Feb. 6, 2024.

Dr. Rolfe McCoy has been a missionary for more than a decade, spending much of his time in Jamaica. It was a missionary trip with his father in the eighth grade that left an impression, moving him to serve others. The semi-retired doctor heard about the need in the Dominican Republic while worshiping at a parish in Daytona Beach. He contacted the Diocese of Orlando Mission Office and got to work right away.

Less than one year later, the team found the perfect place to set up shop inside a government medical clinic in Los Montacitos. McCoy donated equipment from his practice in Missouri. He and engineer Luis José Aybar de los Santos installed the chairs, cabinets, lights and more. Aybar studied at Bishop Moore Catholic High School and the University of Central Florida in Orlando as part of the partnership between the two dioceses. He now spends his days using all he learned in the United States to make the mountain villages a better place.

Dr. Angie Reyes (left) took a week off of her job to give back to her community. Her assistance facilitated the ability to treat more patients at the new dental clinic in Los Montacitos. (COURTESY)

Angie Reyes was also raised in the area. She works full-time as a dentist in the capital city of Santo Domingo. When she heard of the new clinic, she took a week off and headed back into the mountains to serve.

“I will go back and give back to my people,” she said. She also brought along a cousin and friend who helped with patient intake and sterilizing equipment.

The permanent clinic is a gamechanger. The last dental mission took place in 2019 before the COVID pandemic. Back then, dentists would travel with their own tools and do missionary work wherever possible. The lack of space limited the number of patients who could be treated.

McCoy said the fact the clinic is “fixed and sustainable” allows future dental missionaries to do more than extractions. Keeping records enables them to pick up where other volunteers left off.

He acknowledges there is still much to do and hopes to bring in an x-ray machine and other equipment to enhance the services offered. In the meantime, he continues to enjoy the hugs and kind words of appreciation.

“To find a dental clinic this high up in the rural mountains is very, very unusual, even for other countries,” McCoy said. “It’s been a cherished thing in my life to participate in such a project. I constantly get goosebumps thinking about being able to make this a reality.”

The first week of this trip the dentists mostly cared for school staff and students. Gratitude was clearly seen in the smiles, especially in one little boy who finally got relief from a toothache. He gave his classmates a vote of confidence on the way out, saying, “The dental visit did not hurt at all! I’ll do it all over again.”

For Kensy Sanchez Delgado, the dental visit made all the difference. She beamed saying, “I can smile again! Now that my front tooth has been fixed, I look so beautiful.”

The mission office hopes to have at least one dentist serving per month, or at least every quarter, going forward. Teaching good oral hygiene, especially to children, will be key.

“In recent years there’s been great concern because most of the children have cavities and others have more serious problems,” said Maribel Corcino Adames, who works in one of the mission schools. “I am sure the opening of the new clinic will address the dental needs of these communities, especially with prevention. In turn, it will make for a healthier community.”

Raquel Cespedes, director of Mission Services for the Diocese of Orlando, agreed. She was astounded by the long lines of patients, young and old, waiting to be seen. As she held patients’ hands and translated for them, she was glad to be part of the solution.

“It’s amazing how many people need help because they’re in pain,” Cespedes said. “They just really need that care.”

The Mission Office is seeking more dental professionals for missions. For information, contact the Diocese of Orlando Mission Office at 407-246-4893 or

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, February 15, 2024