Volunteers Are Needed to Bring Free Dental, Vision and Hearing Services to Hundreds Without Care
New state law provides continuing education credits for dental professionals volunteering at Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh’s clinic Oct. 27-28.
More than 1,000 volunteers are needed to help with Mission of Mercy Pittsburgh’s annual two-day clinic on Oct. 27-28 that provides free dental, vision and hearing services for nearly 1,500 people who do not have access to this care.
The event will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Doors open Friday and Saturday at 6 a.m. and patients are treated on a first-come, first-serve basis, with capacity reaching more than 700 each day. There are no income or eligibility requirements.
For the first time this year, dentists, dental hygienists and certified dental assistants who volunteer can earn 3 continuing education credits for their service. A new state law took effect in January that provides the credit for volunteer work; these professionals are required to take continuing education to keep their licenses current each year, says Keith Young, chairman of A Call to Care, the nonprofit that runs the Mission of Mercy clinic.
Mission of Mercy has served thousands of patients since it began in 2017. Last year, it offered vision and audiology services for the first time, providing 681 eyeglasses (75 going to children) and 229 sets of top-of-the-line hearing aids.
For patients in need, 47% have never seen a dentist and 21% had experienced dental pain for a year before getting treated. One patient came in with so much decay that dentists had to pull 23 of his teeth, Young says.
Among the services that will be provided are dental exams, cleanings, minor restorative fillings, extractions, root canal treatments on select teeth, oral hygiene instruction and a limited number of temporary partial dental appliances. Hearing and vision tests also are offered and glasses and hearing aids distributed. After care is provided where needed.
Mission of Mercy is seeking dentists, hygienist/dental assistants, dental students and faculty, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners, physicians and PAs, lab technicians and radiologists, vision and hearing professionals.
The clinic also needs between 750 and 800 general volunteers who assist with all sorts of duties that help the process go smoothly for patients. There are duties for intake, exit interviews and many serve as patient ambassadors who escort patients to different locations throughout the convention center as they receive treatment, says Young.
Volunteers also are needed on Oct. 26 to help set up the clinic.
“This is a very tangible volunteer experience,” says Young, who notes that surveys show that 99% of volunteers want to return. “You’re actually seeing the fruits of your labor.”
To learn more or to register as a volunteer, go to MoMPgh.org/volunteer/.