Saturday, April 26th, 2014
Two Saturdays ago, I spent a fair chunk of my day at the most jaw dropping, awe inspiring, saddening, and uplifting clinic I have ever been to. I wanted to share a little of my experience with you.
If you've never heard of the Mission of Mercy group, they are an independent non-profit that offers FREE healthcare, dental care, and prescription medication to anyone who needs it. Now, when you think of a group like this, you think of having to qualify for their help. WRONG. The Mission of Mercy does not take federal support, which means that they are not restricted by federal rules. They can help whoever they want, whenever they want, for whatever reason they want. And let me tell you, this weekend I experienced just that!
Ok, here's the story.
On Thursday, I was asking my clients at the gym my typical end of the week question; what they're up to for the weekend. One of them I found out works for an Orthodontist. She informed me that she'll be "at that dental clinic at the XL Center." Since I don't have cable and don't listen to the radio much, I had no idea what she was talking about. I asked her about it. She told me about the Mission of Mercy Connecicut group and how they offer a yearly dental clinic for absolutely free and that this year, it is being held in Hartford. I was immediately intrigued.
I have not had dental insurance for nearly 4 years and due to that fact, it has been that long since I was at the dentist. I have certainly been much more careful about caring for my teeth in that time, but I always fear cavities. As a child, I had VERY LITTLE enamel on my teeth, the natural protective coating on your teeth. Because of that, I had 14 cavities on my baby teeth. My adult teeth have more enamel, but not that much. I currently have sealants on all of my molars in order to protect against cavities.
So naturally, free dental care was a HUGE interest to me!
The clinic ran Friday and Saturday. With a packed Friday, I opted to get up early on Saturday and go. I set my alarm for 5am (clinic opens at 6a) and went to bed. When I got up, it was pouring outside. Since I had a race on Sunday, I decided it wasn't worth standing in the rain. I went back to bed. Around 9am (still raining), I decided to swing by and see what the line looked like. Wouldn't you know, there was no line! So I found the garage that offered free parking for the event and went over.
Free dental work AND free parking!
Not a single person in line outside. I was expecting the line to go out the building, down the street, wrap around the block, and keep going. As I was walking in, I kept thinking, they must have all stayed home because of the rain. I WAS SO WRONG!
Here was the volunteer table. Let me tell you now that these were THE MOST polite, happy, helpful, and upbeat volunteers I have ever met. Whatever they offered these people, it must have been gold because there was not a single volunteer I met or saw without a smile on their face 100% willing to help you with whatever you asked of them. I was floored!!
So... I walked in and got in line. There might have been 40 people in line. A guy walked around and gave you a card. I had #702. I was the 702nd person to walk through the door on Saturday. Since I walked in around 9:30a, that means they had seen 200 people PER HOUR! They also were passing out donuts in line. I laughed at the irony; dental work and donuts. haha
I found out that this line was for registration. They put our names in the system if we had not been to the clinic before and gave us a number. I was 1872; the 1872nd person they've seen since Friday morning. Then, they sent me with a volunteer escort, Erik, down to the lower floor.
Erik dropped me off with another volunteer at the Medical History Triage. I waited in line with another 50 or so people and had my blood pressure, pulse rate, and medical history taken. They lady was cracking jokes the entire time. LOVED HER! Then she sent me over to Dental Triage.
Here, I waited in line with again, about 50 people, to be checked by a dentist. From here, they would sign off on your sheet for what you needed be it just a cleaning or something more involved; cavity, denture work, oral surgery, root canal, etc. Did I not tell you that you could get just about anything done?! AMAZING!
Then I got dropped off at the cleaning area. This was two rows of at least 15 oral hygienists each. They were non-stop cleaning machines! Here, I sat in line with another 50 people, but this line took MUCH longer than the others. To help the time go by, they had a live band.
No joke! They played a bunch of jazz music while we waited. About half way through the line, they switched over to the radio, but it was impressive to see a live band at this type of event.
Once I got cleaned up, they did a quick instructional bit on how to clean, floss, etc., gave me a pack with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss, and I was good to go.
I arrived around 9:30am and left just before 2pm. But despite taking 4 hours, the clinic was incredible. If you're strapped for time, then go to the dentist's office, but otherwise, the Mission of Mercy Dental Clinic is the most community beneficial group I've ever seen in action; not to mention they're the most friendly, upbeat, and polite group of staff & volunteers I've ever seen. And you'd think that dental people wouldn't be too happy, but they are!!
I heard that next year they will be in Danbury. That'll be a bit of a drive, but I'll probably attend if I don't have dental before then.
1. Have you ever been to a free dental (medical, visual, etc.) clinic?
This was the first time I've been to a free clinic of any kind.
2. If you needed work done, would you go to a clinic like this?
I would absolutely go again!
3. Is there any type of regular doctor (medical, dental, visual, etc.) that you haven't been to in awhile?
This was nearing 4 years for the dentist. I haven't seen an eye doctor since maybe 2005/2006. I did go a few years without seeing a general doctor as well, but I've been the last couple years.
DREAM BELIEVE. ACHIEVE.