Thanks to one of my fellow classmates, who is a Rhode Island native, Dan Pickar and I had the opportunity to attend Rhode Island Mission of Mercy (RIMOM) on June 4, 2016. During this weekend-long event residents from around the state can come to the CCRI Lincoln dental hygiene clinic to receive free dental care from dental providers (dentists, hygienists and assistants) who donate their time. The services provided included: Cleanings, fluoride treatments, sealants, X-Rays, Oral Health Instructions, restorations, root canals, extractions, denture repairs, and partial dentures.
It was amazing to see the amount of patients who lined up to obtain treatment! I knew that this was going to be a huge event when I heard that there were patients who spent so much time traveling and waiting. Even though patient intake did not begin until 8 am on Saturday, many of them had begun to wait in line as early as 6:30 pm the night before on Friday!
As a volunteer, my responsibility took place in the “restoration” room, which was where the patients would wait to be seen for radiographs before determining if they needed a restoration. I had to ensure that everyone who came in had the correct intake forms, determine if they needed a translator, and keep track of who would be called in next to take radiographs. Although the queue was very long for many, up to 3 or 4 hours, it was incredible to see the patience and understanding exhibited by all of those who waited. One of the patients who had waited for 4 hours told me that being seen at this event was worth the wait. He had come to the 2015 RIMOM event and explained that out of all the years of receiving dental care that it was at this free clinic where he had felt he received the highest quality of care and did not want to compromise it.
Hearing this from a patient made me reflect on why I chose to pursue a career in dentistry. As a dental provider you are not only treating a person’s oral cavity, but the entire person. You have the opportunity to be able to impact and make a difference in a person’s life in a positive way. The impressions made on patients’ lives by RIMOM can be seen in the heart-felt thank you notes on the bulletin board at the checkout line. It not only shows how appreciative the people are, but also the reason why so many dental providers have continued to come back to volunteer for the last 5 years.
As one of the D19 co-community service chairs I hope to be able to encourage more classmates to attend next year with Dan and I! – Jacqueline Liu (D19)