Foundation assists states with MOM events
Wichita, Kan.—After seeing 400 people wait all night in a blizzard just to receive dental care, Bruce Bergstrom was convinced there was an issue with access to care.
It was a Missions of Mercy event in Garden City, Kan., the first one organized by America’s Dentists Care Foundation, where Mr. Bergstrom is the executive director. The line for dental care was the length of a football field, Mr. Bergstrom said, and after he saw a boy with no shoes and a swollen face, he knew the organization was on the right track to creating better access to dental care. Eighteen hundred people were treated over two days.
America’s Dentists Care Foundation Missions of Mercy’s goal is to provide equipment to state dental associations that plan a free dental day. It charges states a user fee and, in turn, provides a truckload of equipment, worth around $1 million, to use during a free dental day or Missions of Mercy event.
The foundation brings the equipment, sets it up and will work with state dental associations one year ahead of time to help the staff solicit volunteers, raise money and organize their event.
In 2008, it handled six events. Next year, 30 are scheduled. The states the foundation supports will treat more than 30,000 patients this year, Mr. Bergstrom said. It just finished an event in Modesto, Calif., where $1.2 million worth of services were performed on 1,650 people.
“We never imagined four years ago that our foundation would be where it is today, enabling dentists to provide free care to more than 30,000 patients annually and continuing to grow,” Mr. Bergstrom said. “The need is enormous and while volunteerism is not a solution to this national problem, we can at least be gratified in knowing that we are pointing out these issues as we travel throughout America enabling the dental profession to care for and educate but a small portion of these underserved.”
America’s Dentists Care Foundation will work with state dental societies that invite it to help with an event. For more information about the foundation, visit www.adcfmom.org.