What We Do and Who We Are – Mission of Mercy

by Will Espinoza | September 4, 2019

Since 2013, Catholic Charities has partnered with the dental societies of Southern Maryland and Mid-Maryland to put on five Mission of Mercy dental clinics. This year, we are partnering with the Mid-Maryland Dental Society and the University of Maryland Center for Health Equity. Mission of Mercy is an entirely free adult dental clinic provided by volunteers—500 dental and medical professional and 500 general volunteers. The goal is to provide 1,000 adults with dental care they otherwise would not receive. The clinic this year will be September 12-14 and will be at the Xfinity Center at the University of Maryland. The dental professionals will see patients on a first-come/ first-served basis. In the past, lines have formed many hours before the opening of the event.

The Mission of Mercy event will offer cleanings, fillings,
extractions, some oral surgery, and oral-hygiene education. Triage dentists
will determine which emergency services can be offered to the patient. Only
adults, 18 years old or older are eligible to be treated and no one under the
age of 18 will be allowed in the building, including children of the patients.
There are no other patient restrictions unless the patient cannot be treated because
of a medical reason. Ideally, patients’ treatment will be completed at the
event. If necessary, certain local dental providers will provide follow-up
services on an as-needed basis to participants. Follow up will not include
additional and/ or non-emergency services.

Volunteers, who may include Catholic Charities employees, are needed to assist in every aspect of the event. General Volunteers help with tasks such as monitoring the patient line, patient check-in/out, volunteer check-in/out, patient escorts, hospitality, information technology support, and translators. Clinical Dental/Medical volunteers must be licensed and provide direct patient care: medical pre-screen, dental triage, x-rays, dental services, and post-op. Some clinical students, who are working towards a degree or certification and license in dental and medical professions, can provide care under the supervision of their professor.

Those with a dental degree and a current, Maryland dental
license may volunteer in the following areas: dental triage, emergency endodontics,
hygiene, restorative, oral surgery, and post-op. Those with a dental hygiene
degree and a current, Maryland dental hygienist license may volunteer in the
following areas: hygiene, assisting, and radiology. Dental assistants may
assist in dental triage, hygiene, restorative, oral surgery, radiology, and
sterilization/ supplies.

Medical personnel may conduct a medical history and check
blood pressure and blood glucose levels during the medical pre-screening.
Dental, dental-hygienist, dental-assistant, pharmacy, medical, nursing, and
medical-assistant students may volunteer for various clinical and non-clinical
volunteer work areas. Clinical roles include assisting in medical pre-screen,
hygiene, and restorative and oral surgery.

The Mission of Mercy is not the only dental clinic that Catholic Charities provides. It has three dental clinics that operate throughout the year. These clinics are at the Spanish Catholic Center on Monroe Street in Northwest Washington, the Catholic Charities Center on Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring, and the Mona Center in Temple Hills in Prince George’s County. Both salaried professionals and volunteers staff these clinics.