The floor of the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center was transformed into a massive dental and wellness clinic for the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival last week.
Hosted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health’s Center for Health Equity, the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Maryland State Dental Association Foundation, the event featured free dental services ranging from cleanings and extractions to root canals and crown treatments.
Clients, who may not otherwise seek other kinds of health care, were also given other health screenings and resources: flu shots, eye exams and checks for blood pressure and cholesterol, among others, a unique component offered through the Center for Health Equity.
“This event is a demonstration of public health in action,” said Dr. Stephen Thomas, director of the Center for Health Equity and one of the organizers of the event, held for the third time in five years.
“The fragmentation of oral health from overall health means that it takes a public health approach to bring it all together. We cannot fix the entire broken health care system with one event, but we can alleviate human suffering and prevent more serious health problems.”
More than 1,500 volunteers, including students from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, worked to serve 1,089 patients, many of whom had arrived overnight to secure their place in line. Volunteer interpreters lifted language barriers for patients speaking Tagalog, Spanish, Chinese, French, Korean or German.The event was made possible with generous support from numerous sponsors including presenting sponsors Cigna Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 20