“You treated us like royalty.” Those were the parting words of Regina, the last patient to leave the Mission of Mercy clinic at the Lake County Fairgrounds last Friday. The Expo Building at the Lake County Fairgrounds was transformed into a huge, two-day free clinic on Friday and Saturday with the goal of treating underserved patients with dental, medical and vision needs. More than 1,300 volunteer dentists, hygienists, assistants, dental students, physicians, vision professionals, nurses and lay volunteers treated 2,082 children and adults during the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation and CURE Network’s Mission of Mercy event.
“Throughout the course of this giant, free clinic, our dental volunteers provided 1,113 exams and oral cancer screenings; 811 cleanings; 878 extractions;
“More than 500 patients received vision exams, and eyeglasses were made on site for every patient who needed them,” stated Dr. Ken Nelson, Chair and Co-Founder of the CURE Network. “We performed medical exams, pap smears, breast exams, blood sugar screenings, and blood pressure screenings on over 300 patients.”
“This weekend, we have witnessed many extraordinary circumstances in which people have lost their jobs; their dental, health, or vision insurance; or are dealing with really difficult circumstances. We’ve had the opportunity to touch the lives of many in desperate need,” said Dr. Alice Boghosian, who chairs the Illinois State Dental Society’s Public Relations Committee.
“What you see at the Mission of Mercy is simply a larger example of the charitable care that dentists, physicians and vision professionals provide every day in their offices. This year’s event was especially significant due to the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation’s partnership with the CURE Network to provide dental, medical and vision care,” said Dr. Robert Bitter, President of the Illinois State Dental Society.
Certainly, the Mission of Mercy has called attention the serious problem that many Illinois citizens have in accessing dental and medical care, but charity is not the foundation for a properly working healthcare system. Only the Illinois legislature can provide the solution through adequately funding the Medicaid program in Illinois.
“If everyone gives a little, we can do great things,” Dr. Bitter adds. “The overwhelming sense of gratitude from our patients was so rewarding to our tireless volunteers. Many patients commented that they had never been treated with such kindness and dignity.”
Learn more about the 2012 Mission of Mercy at http://www.isds.org/