Letter to the editor: Work needed to make dental care more availableWriter shares his experience at the Mission of Mercy event held in August; helps provide free dental care for patients on tight budgets.
To the editor,
The Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Foundation recently hosted its first Mission of Mercy event in Mankato, resulting in over 2,000 patient visits. We were proud to have been among the 1,367 volunteers who helped to provide $1.3 million in free dental treatment on August 17th and 18th.
The Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato was transformed into a massive temporary dental clinic where dental professionals from across the state, along with lay community and corporate volunteers, worked tirelessly for two days to deliver free dental care to patients who face insurmountable barriers to dental care. The clinic focused on providing immediate care to patients with dental pain and infection, resulting in 1,489 fillings, 1,307 extractions and 111 partial dentures, along with hundreds of cleanings, sealants and fluoride treatments.
The weekend was filled with remarkable examples of patients who have difficulty in obtaining dental care on a daily basis, standing in line for hours to receive the free treatments. Wide smiles and tears of joy were the order of the day, as the patients were overwhelmingly grateful to be finally receiving the help they so desperately needed. To be a part of the experience was deeply moving for me and my staff.
While I am pleased to have been part of this extraordinary effort by so many generous volunteers, charity care is not a long-term solution to the access-to-care problem in our state. I urge lawmakers to work on bi-partisan solutions that will reduce the barriers to dental care faced by this underserved segment of our population.
Dr. Jon Falkowski,