MINNEAPOLIS, Aug. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minnesota Dental Association and the Minnesota Dental Foundation hosted the Minnesota Mission of Mercy on August 17 and 18 in Mankato, providing free dental care to children and adults who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise not able to obtain dental treatment. The first ever Mission of Mercy event held in Minnesota delivered free dental care that was valued at $1.3 million. The signature sponsor of the event was Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation.
The Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato was transformed into a giant dental office that included over 25,000 square feet of arena space with 125 portable dental chairs, 16 sterilization units and 10 x-ray units. Over the course of two days there were 2,062 patient visits, resulting in 1,489 fillings, 1,307 extractions, 1,719 x-rays and 111 partial dentures, along with hundreds of exams, cleanings, sealants, and fluoride treatments.
Volunteers totaling 1,367 were the lifeblood of the event and included dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, dental therapists, translators and scores of community and lay volunteers serving as greeters, registration assistants, and patient escorts. Collectively they brought smiles and tears of joy to people who traveled for miles, many waiting in line overnight to be assured dental treatment that would be life-changing.
Appreciative patients had many kind words of thanks for the volunteers, including these:
"I am so appreciative of all the volunteers. Your kindness and respect is something I will never forget. I am grateful for all the services provided today." (Becker, MN)
"I am so grateful for this. It's a once in a lifetime experience. I can smile!" (Mankato, MN)
"What an amazing group of volunteers! Thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to help today. You have made a gigantic difference in our lives. Bless all of you." (Mankato, MN)
"I am the happiest I have been in 32 years. You are so amazing words can't describe it.…God bless you all." (Hokah, MN)
"I'm totally impressed by how well organized this whole event has been….I haven't had insurance for years and this event is truly a blessing. Thank you." (Mankato, MN)
This event is the culmination of 2 ½ years of planning by Minnesota dentists who are concerned about the growing number of adults and children not receiving proper care. "The Mission of Mercy was quite an emotionally charged and uplifting weekend and left smiles on both patients and volunteers alike," stated Dr. Michael Zakula, president of the Minnesota Dental Association. "It not only provided free dental care for those suffering from pain and infection, but also raised public awareness of the significant barriers to care faced by many people. Hopefully, it will also challenge our lawmakers to join dental professionals in finding an effective and appropriate way to improve the access to quality dental health care for those who simply can't get the care they need and deserve."
The Minnesota Dental Foundation raised more than $319,000 in donations to cover the costs of the event.
The Minnesota Dental Association is the voice of dentistry in Minnesota, representing 78% of practicing dentists. It is committed to the highest standards of oral health and access to care for all Minnesotans. Learn more at: www.mndental.org.