In my previous columns for the Carroll County Times Nonprofit View, I have shared with readers the “journey” we have taken at Mission of Mercy toward achieving our long-term goal of purchasing and outfitting a dedicated mobile dental clinic.
I am pleased to report that our goal became reality this past winter when we officially launched our new, state-of-the-art, three-chair dental unit. This vehicle was made possible thanks to a multi-year, fundraising campaign that earned support from major foundations, churches and individuals.
Now our Dental Director Dr. Roz Kellum and our volunteer dentists have a professional and fully-outfitted clinic in which to perform free fillings and extractions for our patients who have no dental insurance, who are underinsured or who cannot afford their deductibles.
Dr. Kellum has told me that a lot of our patients have said that having this beautiful new facility makes them feel important, like they really matter. This is living proof of how Mission of Mercy restores healing and dignity through love.
With our new dedicated dental clinic, we are now seeing twice as many patients as we have in the past because our volunteer dentists and dental assistants no longer have to spend precious time setting up and breaking down temporary dental equipment during our regular mobile medical clinic visits. We have devoted one of the three chairs in the mobile unit to patient prep, which is also helping us streamline operations and see more patients during the clinic day.
And in addition to the compassionate dental care they provide, our dentists and registered nurses are also participating in the Maryland Department of Health’s “Two Minutes with Your Dentist Can Save Your Life” campaign.
Funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, the initiative encourages dentists to take the blood pressure of their patients to identify those with undiagnosed hypertension. If left untreated, hypertension can lead to heart disease, which kills more than 11,000 Marylanders each year.
Because our dental and medical vans are parked side by side at each clinic site we visit, Dr. Kellum and the other volunteer dentists who perform these blood pressure screenings can immediately refer patients with elevated blood pressure to our medical staff for further evaluation and treatment. We are thrilled to provide this multi-disciplinary, one-stop integrated care to our patients.
It has been 25 years since we started serving Carroll County. During that time, we have provided free dental care to more than 3,000 patients and free medical care to almost 9,000 patients who have no insurance, who are underinsured or who cannot afford their deductibles. Our patients can also receive free prescription medications, including antibiotics to prevent post-dental procedure infections.
If you’d like to see our new mobile dental unit for yourself, please contact us at 301-682-LOVE (5683). We can arrange for you to step inside the clinic during our monthly visits to Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (38 W. Baltimore St.) in Taneytown. We welcome the opportunity to share our Mission of Mercy with you.
Linda Ryan is the executive director of Mission of Mercy.