Hundreds receive free dental care from mobile dental clinic in Kerrville, Texas
By Theresa Standage, RN, Wesley Nurse (Kerrville, Texas)
When I saw the Texas Mission of Mercy (TMOM) trailer pull into the parking lot of Kerrville First United Methodist Church, my two-year aspiration became a reality. I had a vision of bringing mobile dentistry to Kerrville after several of my uninsured patients expressed a need for dental care and shared stories of self-care treatments and going to the Peterson Regional Medical Center's emergency room in search of relief from painful toothaches. With the help of donations from Methodist Healthcare Ministries, the Perry & Ruby Stevens Charitable Foundation, and the Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation, the event was placed on the calendar for March 2017 and I was delighted to serve as lead organizer.
As a Wesley Nurse, I'm committed to helping the least served through education, health promotion and collaboration with key organizations. Once I was introduced to TMOM, I knew how beneficial it would be to Kerrville community members. Texas Mission of Mercy is a mobile dental clinic that travels around the state providing basic dental care (including cleanings, fillings, or extractions), free of charge, to uninsured Texans. They provide services without any pre-qualifications; therefore, patients do not have to prove their poverty or residency.
The event had the help of 529 volunteers, including 161 community members and 59 dental professionals (pediatric dentists, orthodontists, and oral surgeons). The two-day event brought dental staff from all over the state of Texas, with some traveling from as far as Brady, Texas. Local dentists, Dr. Jennifer Bone and Dr. Jamie Bone, were the dental chairpersons for the event.
"It's amazing to see the community support for this event — from the financial support of our major sponsors to the in-kind contributions of local businesses and countless volunteers giving their time to help Friday and Saturday," said Dr. Jamie Bone. "It's a tremendous undertaking, and it's heartwarming to see people coming together for such a good cause."
As early as 8 p.m. the night before, patients with blankets in hand started lining the sidewalks of Kerrville First United Methodist Church. Dental chairs had been assembled, water had been piped in, and the gym had been transformed into a 20-chair dental clinic. By 5 a.m., patients were being checked in and receiving dental consultations, x-rays, and even extractions. For many, it was the first time they had ever seen a dentist.
"An urgent dental problem can have a major impact on a person's life; it can affect a person's confidence, mood, job and school/work performance," explained Chairperson Dr. Jennifer Bone. "Kerrville's TMOM was just a two-day event but it helped make a big difference for the people who received treatment."
At closing Saturday evening, it was evident how the community had come together. A total of 445 patients received treatment; we averaged six people every 15 minutes. The event provided $281,835 in free dental services, about $633.34 per patient. However, the greatest thing about the event was everyone's spirit. Both event days were nonstop, but the patients and volunteers alike all had smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. It was incredible to see. View more event photos on Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Facebook page.
The TMOM Committee would like to express appreciation to:
• Acapulco Restaurant
• Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country
• Community Volunteers
• Five Star Rental
• Hill Country Dental Associates
• Kerrville First United Methodist Church
• Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc.
• Peterson Regional Medical Center
• San Saba Cap Company
• Texas Dental Association/Smiles Foundation
• The Hal & Charlie Peterson Foundation
• The Perry & Ruby Stevens Charitable Foundation
Wesley Nurse Theresa Whitley is working with her community for TMOM's San Angelo event, Oct. 13-14, 2017. For more information or to volunteer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or register at https://tmomvolunteer.org.
Theresa Standage, RN, is a Wesley Nurse with Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. Methodist Healthcare Ministries' Wesley Nurse program is a faith-based, holistic health and wellness program committed to serving the least served through education, health promotion and collaboration with individual and community in achieving improved wellness through self-empowerment. Learn more at www.mhm.org.