Monday, August 15, 2011

NC MOM

Last Friday I signed up to volunteer at the NC Missions of Mercy. Local dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, pharmacists, dental students, pre-dental students, and community volunteers help to organize the event, which provides free dental care to lower income individuals on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The MOM event took place on Friday and Saturday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. It was an exhausting day, as I was up at 5:00am and volunteered for six hours before heading to work at the bank. I worked as a patient escort for extraction patients. It was a mundane task, but I got to meet a lot of wonderful people who were my fellow volunteers.

I was also impressed by how friendly all of the patients were and the gratitude they expressed! Many of the individuals seen during my Friday morning shift had slept overnight at the RBC center and had been in line since Thursday evening. I have immense respect for their effort to maintain their oral health and wait hours in line to receive health care. Many of my extraction patients were nervous and had never had a tooth pulled. Some of the patients had to have up to six teeth pulled! All of these extractions took place on the floor of the arena, surrounded by hundreds of people--not as comfortable as a quiet office setting!

Photo courtesy of Capitol Broadcasting Company (wral.com)

Every patient went through a series of stations, such as triage, x-rays, and cleaning. Also, many people received fillings and partials. There was a lab on-site that actually made the teeth after an impression had been made. A pharmacist also provided medications for the patients, which he himself had fully funded.

All of this dental care was provided for free by dentists who dedicated their money, time, and services. Approximately 800 patients were seen on Friday and an additional 300 patients were seen on Saturday.

When I got to work at the bank that afternoon, I was appalled to read the comment section of the WRAL news feature on the NC MOM event.

For example:
"4 years of dental school yields no serious issues with malpractice insurance, a 3 1/2 day work week and $450k-$600K per year income. They should be MANDATED to provide this care on one of their 3 1/2 days off since the education is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Sheesh. And further, let dental hygienists work for themselves and the cost of cleaning your fangs would drop by 2/3s."

"Wow what a shock. Give more free services to people who barely work. I make over $30K a year, so I reckon I screwed up by having a higher paying job. Looks like I need to down grade."

"If you can stand in line 10 hours you can work overtime some, save money, and get what you need."

I was so disappointed to read the 100 comments regarding the article. The story was about dental professionals volunteering their time to help those in need (a positive story in the midsts of other depressing articles), and yet the majority of the feedback on this story was negative. 

NC MOM events are not government sponsored or tax-payer funded. It is honest and honorable charity for the less fortunate. 

I personally was thrilled help out with this wonderful cause and show my support. 

To find out more about NC MOM, visit the NC MOM website

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