The ringing in of a new year is always filled with great promise and anticipation. That is especially true for us at Mission of Mercy, as we celebrate our 25th anniversary of serving the under-insured and uninsured of Carroll County. These are the people who are falling through the cracks of our health care system. By providing them with free medical and dental care, as well as free prescription medications, our goal is to restore healing and dignity through love.

In addition to celebrating our 25 years of service in Carroll County, in 2019 we bring to fruition an effort that we began more than two years ago. Thanks to support from major foundations, churches and individuals, we now have a three-chair, state-of-the-art mobile dental unit that enables us to double the number of patients we can serve.

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Anyone who has suffered from a toothache knows that the pain can be debilitating. It can make it difficult to work and to care for our families. It can also lead to significant health challenges as well, including serious systemic infections.

But now we have skilled, volunteer dentists, working along with our dental director and dental coordinator, who can help adults in Carroll County who are suffering with dental pain. They can perform extractions and filling and provide all necessary medications to ensure infection control. Patients can schedule appointments or be seen as walk-ins. And we offer all of these services for free, thanks to the incredible generosity of our donors and benefactors. We do not rely on government support.

Since we began serving Carroll County in 1994, we have seen 2,937 dental patients, many of whom required repeat visits to manage their oral health. In addition, we continue to offer free health care and free prescription medications to our medical patients, three-quarters of whom suffer from chronic health issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Over the last 25 years, we have seen a total of 8,841 patients in Carroll County. Many of these patients require multiple follow-ups, which is why we have tallied 55,300 medical visits to our mobile medical clinic in Carroll County since 1994.

As we begin 2019, I want to thank all of our amazing Carroll County volunteers and donors. Without their contributions, we could not achieve the life-changing outcomes we do. Yet our work is never done. We will need on-going funding for the dental unit’s operational support as well as for hand-held instruments that range anywhere from $5 to $4,900 each.

If you are interested in learning more about our services or contributing your time, talent or resources to help us continue our Mission of Mercy, please visit our website at www.amissionofmercy.org. You can also stop by and see our work in action when we pull into Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, 38 W. Baltimore St. in Taneytown. Please check our website for the most current clinic schedule.

On behalf of the patients, volunteers and staff of Mission of Mercy, I extend our best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.

Linda Ryan is the executive director of Mission of Mercy. Reach her at lryan@amissionofmercy.org.

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