Sunday, October 5, 2008
Iowa Mission of Mercy
Yesterday morning I met at the dental school at 4:30 AM so I could ride a bus with about 50-60 other dental students and faculty and hour and a half to Waterloo for the first Iowa Mission of Mercy. Unfortunately, the bus thought we were leaving at 4:30 PM and did not arrive until after 6, but that's not the point.
Over a two day period the Iowa Mission of Mercy provided free dental care to anyone willing to wait in line. Thursday night the line started at about 3 AM of people wanting to ensure they received dental care. On Saturday, my 4:00 PM patient said she had been waiting since 8 AM. We worked in a large convention center that was donated by the city of Waterloo with probably over 100 dental chairs lined up in rows and rows for cleanings, extractions, pediatric dentistry, etc. Pts were first screened for significant medical histories, were triaged and given a list of top dental priorities, and were then sent to the numbing station before waiting more to be escorted to a chair to receive their first priority care. If the patient finished in time, they could get back in line and wait to get the next issue on their list taken care of.
The morning was a bit frustrating trying to get the portable units and equipment worked out. Over the day I was able to see some people with some definate dental needs including a 7 year old girl with at least 5 teeth on their way to dental abscesses and a woman who couldn't smile any more because of the decayed state of her front teeth. I was grateful we could help these people take care of issues that were not only affecting their mouths but could have a significant effect on their overall health. I pray that the little girl's mom will have the resources and courage to take her to the dental school to get the other cavities taken care of before they become dangerous.
In two days the volunteers dentists, hygienists, and other medical personnel were able to treat over 1200 patients and perform over $500,000 worth of treatment. I hope to find ways to do this in my own practice on a regular basis. It is obvious there is much dental need with people who feel they have nowhere to go.