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Having dental problems? MOM is ready to help

Staff report • Jul 11, 2018 at 9:45 PM

WISE — Free dental care will be available to all comers at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise July 20-22 thanks to the Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s Mission of Mercy (MOM) program.

MOM volunteers address oral health needs in underserved communities across the state by providing preventative, restorative and surgical dental care. The program was created in 2000 by Dr. Terry Dickinson.

Thirty-one states have implemented similar models.

The VDAF expects more than 450 dentists, dental professionals and support volunteers from the Virginia Dental Association, the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Dentistry and the community to participate in the three-day clinic.

The event will be held in the UVa-Wise David J. Prior Convocation Center. Operating hours on Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21 will be from 7 a.m.-5 p.m., and on Sunday, July 22 from 7-11 a.m.

Patients are encouraged to arrive early. Preregistration will begin at noon on Thursday, July 19. Patients should wear comfortable clothing and are encouraged to bring food and drink for the day.

MOM volunteers have provided dental services valued at more than $19 million in free care to more than 22,000 patients in Southwest Virginia since 2000 as participants in the annual Wise County Remote Area Medical (RAM) event that will also take place at the county fairgrounds near Wise on July 20-22.

This year the MOM clinic at the college is a separate event in order to take advantage of the Convocation Center’s controlled environment and public accommodations.

The facility “is air conditioned, safer and more comfortable for attendees,” Dickinson said in a press release. “We’ve been proud to serve patients in the Wise County area for so many years, and we’re thankful for the many volunteers that power the MOM project.”

The annual RAM event at the fairgrounds will continue to provide free dental services as well, along with its usual broad range of medical and vision services. MOM will provide free shuttle transportation from the college to the fairgrounds for patients interested in accessing other health care services that will be available at the RAM clinic.

Those who plan to seek free dental services at the MOM clinic at UVa-Wise are advised no overnight parking or camping is allowed on the college campus. UVa-Wise spokesperson Kathy Still said campus police will have four or five officers directing traffic each day of the MOM event, and additional officers will be present overnight to maintain security at the Convocation Center.

“Overnight parking, camping or sleeping in vehicles will not be allowed on campus property,” Still said.

UVA-Wise Chancellor Donna P. Henry said RAM and MOM “have, for many years, fulfilled a great need for individuals seeking medical and dental care. Their objectives are consistent with the college’s values, which include serving the region and the public.”

For many years, Henry said, UVa-Wise has provided volunteers from the region to assist the RAM and MOM operations, along with lodging for volunteer providers.

“This year, we are also pleased to host the Mission of Mercy dental clinic on campus at the David J. Prior Convocation Center. We are glad to directly facilitate the provision of care that may be otherwise inaccessible in our communities,” Henry said.

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