Following His Calling: Dentist Helps Those In Need

January 16, 2011

Dr. T.J. Morris is engaged in the work he loves at his dental clinic in Atmore, a full-time practice made possible largely by tuition loan repayment assistance from the National Health Service Corps.

Morris (his full name is Terry Jack Morris, Jr., but he goes by T.J. to avoid confusion with his father) has treated both adults and children at the clinic since the spring of 2010. “I fell in love with the people and the community here,” said Morris. “It has been a blessing from God to be able to serve these people, do what I love, and be compensated for it.”

Morris is one of the few Medicaid providers in the tri-county area. He sees patients from neighboring counties, which is a big help to those who cannot afford to pay for dental care. Payments are charged on a sliding scale based on income, but no patient is turned away. Patients have shown their appreciation by offering him squash, fudge and homemade cakes.

“This is what God has called me to do,” he said. “I have never enjoyed working like this before.”

Atmore is located in a dental health shortage area, which is defined as an area where there are not enough dentists to serve the needs of patients in a particular geographic region.

After the death of Dr. Thomas Rice and the closure of another dental practice in Brewton, there was a definite need for dental services in Atmore and surrounding areas. Dr. Morris learned about the opening through a dentist in Mobile.

With special permission granted by the Alabama Board of Dental Examiners, Morris was able to purchase the established practice from the estate of the late Dr. Rice. He said this would not have been possible without federal financial support because he had a sizable student loan debt. Without the repayment assistance, he would not have qualified for additional loans.

For almost 40 years the National Health Service Corps has helped thousands of healthcare professionals practice in communities where they are most needed because of the financial assistance provided through student loan repayments and scholarships. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, an additional $300 million was allocated to assist more professionals repay student loans.

Pictured: Dr. T.J. Morris provides dental care to a young patient at his Atmore office. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Comments

16 Responses to “Following His Calling: Dentist Helps Those In Need”

  1. Tammy on January 24th, 2011 11:57 am

    Thank u Dr.Morris for being there for people like me…..Yor are a godsend

  2. Country girl on January 18th, 2011 1:57 pm

    If Dr TJ’s office doesn’t take FL medicaid, the Escambia Co. Health Dept. in Florida does. They have a clinic in Century for Children and one in Pensacola for Children and limited adult services. For more details of what services are offered, please call 595-6600.

  3. W on January 17th, 2011 9:27 pm

    This is great news. Does anyone know the number to his office?

  4. Tami on January 17th, 2011 6:48 pm

    God has sent another angel to Atmore………..Thank you God!!!! I hope i can see him asap

  5. faye on January 17th, 2011 1:36 pm

    I drove from mobile to see Dr.Tj Morris..He is a very gentle Dentist,very good at what he does.. didn’t know much about him but did know his wife,it was will worth the drive.I am going back…Atmore and surrounding area is very blessed to have him…

  6. Marla Billante on January 17th, 2011 12:53 pm

    Such a blessing to hear all of these wonderful comments about my cousin!!!! We all love him VERY much and are very proud of him!!! Such a nice article and such sweet comments!!! Keep up the good work Dr. Teej (P.J as Abby Claire calls you) love you so much!!

  7. lisa on January 17th, 2011 8:28 am

    I take my kid’s there they was seeing the late Dr. Rice.My daughter has been going there since she was 2. Dr. Morris is GREAT with my now 7 and 2 year old. My family loves them , Mrs. Judy that works there she’s the BEST!!!!!!

  8. T on January 17th, 2011 6:58 am

    Another great gift from God. What a blessing this man is. :)

    Does anyone know if he accepts Florida insurance,
    or Florida Medicaid?

    The Atmore community should be very thankful.

  9. lawful citzen on January 16th, 2011 7:10 pm

    A real blessing to the people of Atmore and surronding areas. There are a lot of people in the area that are indigent and in need of dental care that can afford to pay something or a small amount but cannot afford a large amonnt and don’t have insurance. So this is a real blessing to us all.

  10. William on January 16th, 2011 5:53 pm

    >>Can you tell me where he is located in Atmore and maybe a phone number?

    111 East Ridgely Street
    251-368-3237

  11. Tiff on January 16th, 2011 5:42 pm

    Can you tell me where he is located in Atmore and maybe a phone number? Right now I take my kids to Mobile when they have to go to the dentists, but Dr. Morris is much closer.

  12. Rose on January 16th, 2011 5:29 pm

    GOD is great you will get your full reward in heaven

  13. art on January 16th, 2011 3:13 pm

    people and societies are judged according to how they treat the needy in their midst. some believe those that are needy as to being undeserving somehow and yet we are all undeserving to some extent. all my life i have heard what goes around comes around, so to me, my hat is off to those who choose to serve with a self-sacrificing spirit, especially when it comes to serving those who are the downtrodden and needy. thank you dr. morris and thank you to all who serve in our community to make life better for all of us.

  14. barrineau on January 16th, 2011 10:14 am

    Good story. I now know a little bit more why my childrens dentist office is ALWAYS full of people, as silly as it sounds this will make me a little less likely to get upset about the wait.

  15. JUDY MASEK on January 16th, 2011 10:01 am

    very inspiring story!..we are very fortunate to have such a compassionate dentist in the neighborhoood!…a rare breed, to say the least…i noticed that the article didnt mention whether dr morris is married, or not :)

  16. Lost on January 16th, 2011 8:14 am

    I don’t live in the Atmore area but I sure need dental assistance. My teeth are rotting out of my head and I make very little money.
    This is a wonderful service for this man to be providing.
    We need more dental assistance with Medicaid and all. As far as I know Medicaid hardly pays for any dental help with adults.
    I don’t need a doctor. I need a dentist.
    I wish I could smile again.





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