Saturday, September 13, 2014

Second Year, Twice the Good!

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From Thursday September 4 until Saturday evening, September 6, you wouldn’t recognize the floor of the University of Maryland’s XFINITY Center, typically where their men’s and women’s basketball teams play in front of thousands of fans.

Instead of a court, benches and hoops, 100 dental chairs covered the floor. More than 400 dentists, hygienists and other dental professionals treated as many uninsured, adult patients as possible. The locker room for visiting teams was turned into a X-ray center. And where fans usually wait in line to enter the stadium, thousands of people waited in line as early as 2 am the night before.

Welcome to our second-ever Catholic Charities Mission of Mercy event. 

Last August, you may remember, we first partnered with the Maryland State Dental Association to hold a Mission of Mercy event. After hearing about its success, the University of Maryland’s Public School of Health wanted to be part of making another event happen.

XFINITY Center transformed into a 2-day dental clinic.
The results speak to the University of Maryland’s support, as it “supercharged” the event. We served 1,185 patients with a wide range of dental needs from routine cleanings to tooth extractions to root canals (eesh!). Additionally, a Health Equity Festival was held to connect patients with community providers offering other helpful services.

Clinical volunteers saw over 1,200 patients in two days.
Still, even with an event seeing patients for two straight days from 7 am to 6 pm, we had to turn people away who we simply didn’t have the time or manpower to see.

“The thing I walk away from this event thinking is, wow, we just did something incredible. And yet, you know there are so many more people out there who are in very real pain and can’t afford to see a dentist,” said Deacon Jim Nalls, who served as the Chair of the event. When he’s not organizing massive dental clinics, Nalls works as the Parish and Schools Outreach Manager for Catholic Charities. “Dental health is just as important as any other part of the body in need of healing. And when you have a tooth ache, it is extremely hard to focus on anything else.”

Including the many dental professionals, along with non-clinical volunteers who showed up to help with registration, setup and breakdown, patient guidance and more, we had 1,451 volunteers help carry out this massive event. And while we’re still crunching the numbers, we are confident to report that the dental services provided were worth well over $1,000,000!

Check out some of the great media coverage of the event!

Catholic Standard