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Mission of Mercy milestones

Virginia, Wisconsin projects log impressive numbers


Under the Big Top: Dr. Benita Miller, right, a periodontist in Richmond, Va., and an oral surgery assistant provide care in a tent at the Wise County MOM. Photo by Tim Cox
Nationwide, more than half of U.S. states have launched Mission of Mercy dental clinic programs or similar initiatives. They are racking up impressive numbers and reaching significant milestones as they treat patients who can't otherwise afford access to dental care and support the ADA's Action for Dental Health Initiative by providing care to people suffering with untreated disease. See story for more details on the initiative.

Virginia treats 50,000th patient

In the state where it all began, the Wise County MOM project marked a significant milestone—treating its 50,000th patient since the first Virginia MOM in 2000.

"Knowing that serving the 50,000th patient isn't the answer, we continue to look for a more sustainable solution for the next 50,000," said Dr. Terry Dickinson, Virginia Dental Association executive director and founder of the Mission of Mercy Project. "The first 50,000 patients all had stories, often filled with a lack of hope and dreams for a better tomorrow. We truly have been blessed to be a part of their lives and their stories. We will continue to seek to make a difference in the lives of those we serve."

During the Wise MOM July 19-21, some 425 dental volunteers provided $1,378,000 of free dental care to 1,329 patients. Virginia has held 69 MOMs in the past 14 years, providing 51,311 patients with $32 million in free care.


Giving back: Wisconsin Dental Association’s 10,000th MOM patient, James Spade, returns to help Lani Becker, WDA associate executive director, and other volunteers with cleanup on June 30 as a way to thank volunteers for his care.
10,000th Wisconsin patient volunteers

When Wisconsin hosted its fifth MOM event June 28-29 in Lake Geneva, volunteers treated the state's 10,000th patient, James Spade. Mr. Spade was so touched by the care he received that he returned to work as a volunteer for teardown and packing on June 30.

"You guys rock heaven," Mr. Spade wrote on his patient comment card after receiving care. "Thanks a lot. All you guys are heaven sent. This is how people show that they care for others that don't have the means. God bless each and every one of you. Always keep spreading the love, Mr. 10,000 James Spade."

Since 2009, Wisconsin has held MOMs in La Crosse, Sheboygan, Wausau, Madison and Lake Geneva. Nearly 6,000 volunteers have logged 11,379 patient encounters and provided $5.8 million in free dental care.

"Our volunteers feel good that their work is appreciated, and that helps them keep coming back," said Lani Becker, associate executive director of the Wisconsin Dental Association and a member of the board of America's Dentists Care Foundation, the organization that helps states organize their MOM projects. "Our volunteers are the greatest. They fix smiles, but they provide care for the whole person."

One case in June that touched her heart, she noted, was meeting a man who had arranged in advance to receive full dentures at the MOM. He had already undergone his extractions and healing.

"When one of our volunteers placed his dentures in, he looked great and I told him he had a beautiful smile," said Ms. Becker. "But the man's fiancée, who came along to support him in the process, seemed upset."

After talking with the couple, she and the other volunteers learned that their wedding was coming up, and although the groom-to-be now had a winning smile, the bride-to-be had some dental issues that needed addressing.

"After she left the treatment area, she told me that she also needed dentures, but had no way to get them before the wedding," Ms. Becker said. "And when Dr. Mark Huberty, a volunteer from Sheboygan, learned this, he was determined not to make her wait another year for the next MOM. He had her fiancé call her cell phone and get her to come back. They examined her and found she needed a couple of fillings and a partial to replace a missing front tooth to restore her smile. Even though our lab had closed down a few hours before, we asked them to make the partial and they happily helped.

"It's hard to describe how it feels to be a part of this, but it's amazing," Ms. Becker added. "Our patients wait long hours in rain or heat, they make new friends while they wait. They are special people and we do what we can for them."

For more information regarding how to start a MOM program in your state, or to see a list of events scheduled by state, visit America's Dentists Care Foundation at www.adcfmom.org.


Ready to work: Dr. Robert Faiella, ADA president, left, joins fellow volunteers Dr. Terry Dickinson, MOM founder and Virginia Dental Association Executive Director; and Marcia Brand, Ph.D., Health Resources and Services Administration deputy administrator; at the Wise Mission of Mercy Project July 20. Photo by Tim Cox
ADA plans MOM in New Orleans

Volunteers are still needed for the Mission of Mercy charity dental clinic planned for Nov. 3 in New Orleans in conjunction with the ADA's 2013 Annual Session.

The ADA hopes to serve some 1,000 patients in need of dental care on the last day of the Oct. 31-Nov. 3 meeting.

The ADA will host the MOM event in conjunction with the America's Dentists Care Foundation with the support of the Louisiana Dental Association and the New Orleans Dental Association. Dentists, dental team members, dental and dental team students, office staff, families and friends (age 18 and older) who will be in New Orleans for the Annual Session are encouraged to volunteer for the event.

"This is the first MOM program that will actively recruit dental professionals from around the country to participate at one location," said Ms. Becker, who is helping to coordinate the program. "We encourage volunteers from all around the country to join together to help people in a city that has faced more than its share of challenges. We can make a difference."

The program will need about 800 volunteers, including dentists, team members, clerical and support staff and more. The event offers families or dental offices attending Annual Session a chance to experience a unique and rewarding team-building activity.

MOM volunteers serve in a multitude of roles during a typical event. Roughly half of the 800 or so volunteers are dental professionals who provide triage services, radiology, diagnostics and treatment, including restorative and specialty care. Other volunteers—students, laboratory technicians and front office specialists—also help the massive MOM clinics run smoothly. About 200 nonclinical volunteers cover support services from registration, patient greeting and escorting, conducting exit interviews, site set-up and teardown, parking attendants and many more roles.

The event will run from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3. For more details or to register as a volunteer, visit ADA.org/MOM.