What is the Western Maryland Mission of Mercy?
The Western Maryland Mission of Mercy is a two day free dental clinic that provides free services to people who could not otherwise afford dental care. Our clinic is a community partnership of several local organizations that include the Allegany-Garrett Dental Society, Allegany Health Right, County United Way and Western MD AHEC. At our first clinic in 2010, we served 810 people from 7 states and 23 counties. We provided $700,000 in free oral-health care. In 2011, we served 840 patients despite snow on day 2, and provided over $710,000 in free services.
A little history
The Mission of Mercy program was started by Dr. Terry Dickenson, Executive Director of the Virginia Dental Association in 2000. The project has grown tremendously. Mission of Mercy free dental clinics are now held in several states across the country.
Try to visualize the typical Mission of Mercy (MOM) patient. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is a homeless person, someone on government assistance, or a drug addict unable to get needed dental care for obvious reasons. However, that first mental picture can't be any further from the truth. The people out there in need include the average person mingling and socializing among us. They are friends, coworkers, people we interact with on a daily basis. They could be your grandparent, mother, father, sibling, or any other relative. With the tough economic times we are in, it could be anyone. It could be you. More than 100 million people in the United States are without dental insurance.
The Western Maryland Tri-State area is one in which the oral health need is immense. Allegany County leads the state of Maryland in natural tooth loss. More than 20% of our population is considered to be in poverty. More than 15% of people have not been to a dentist in 5+ years. And conditions in nearby West Virginia are even worse. We are committed to improving the oral health in our area. These weekend dental clinics provide not only needed dental care to the individuals served but also hope and important access to care information.