This past weekend, Colorado Mission of Mercy held its annual free dental clinic, this year in Pueblo, Colorado. I volunteer at this clinic when I’m in town, but unfortunately, I was out of state this year. Luckily, we had several staff members – and a dog – who did a good job representing our office. Along with 200 dentists, 120+ hygienists, and countless other volunteers, they had a very rewarding weekend. We don’t know the final numbers yet, but it looks like over 1700 dental procedures were performed.
From the COMOM website, its mission is as follows:
The Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM) provides quality dental services, at no cost, to individuals of all ages who cannot afford and access dental care; eliminating dental pain, promoting oral health, creating smiles, and providing oral health education.
COMOM 2017, Pueblo, Colorado
Almost every staff member has volunteered at COMOM in one capacity or another. This year, Susan, Lee Ann and Jane attended. Susan is not holding a ray gun, that’s a portable x-ray unit! She spent all day Friday (and I mean all day) taking x-rays of patients once they were seen in the triage area.
Lee Ann helped with oral cancer screenings. The good news is that she only saw one patient with a suspicious lesion in their mouth. Here, she is relaying her findings to a patient and explaining next steps.
Jane took on a different role this year and served as co-lead for all 120+ hygienists. She attended planning meetings, helped set up, organize, and tear down hygiene stations, and made sure hygienists had everything they needed. Some days, she arrived at 5:00 a.m. and didn’t leave until 7:00 p.m. Near the end of the last day, with 70 patients still waiting to have their teeth cleaned, she even rounded up a few dentists to help work through the back log.
Therapy Dogs at COMOM
Carla usually stays home with the dog when I volunteer, but had the idea last year that therapy dogs would be a good fit with COMOM. Often times, patients camp out over night to save a place in line. Once inside, they wait to be triaged, wait for x-rays, and then wait for whatever procedure they are going to have done. In other words, a lot of waiting. Carla and I have both gone through the Go Team therapy dog training with Indy, seeing first hand the positive reactions he receives. Therefore, Carla started talking with COMOM coordinators early this year about having therapy dogs visit with waiting patients, and they agreed to have Indy come on a test basis.
What a hit he was! Hundreds of patients gave him hours of non-stop affection. Carla and Indy started outside, greeting patients as they were waiting in line to come in. Then they came inside and worked the waiting areas where people he’d met outside would call for him to come over for another round of petting. The volunteers also found Indy to be a good stress reliever. As a result, Carla was asked if she could get more Go Team dogs/handlers there for the Saturday clinic. Because there’s a Go Team in Pueblo, she was able to get three more dogs and handlers to come and visit patients and volunteers on very late notice.
COMOM in Greely, 2018
Next year’s event will be held in Greeley, CO. This is such a rewarding opportunity for us, you can be sure our office will be represented again.