The North Carolina Missions of Mercy (NCMOM) has announced that it will be setting up shop on Sept. 23 and 24 at the Jackson County Health Department in Sylva. NCMOM provides free dental care to those who cannot otherwise afford it on a first come-first served basis. Doors will open at 7 a.m. both days. The weekend is sponsored by the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic in Cashiers and the Jackson County Health Department.
The Missions of Mercy Clinics were begun in North Carolina in 2004 after the need was perceived for accessible care across the state. Typically, NCMOM sets up about 30 portable dental chairs, offering cleanings, extractions, and limited restorations to roughly 350 patients over the course of a weekend.
Last year, the NCMOM program provided free dental care in 12 statewide clinics to 6,753 patients through donated services valued at $3.1 million.
Low-income residents from Western North Carolina in need of dental care are encouraged to attend the clinic. Karen Minton of the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic explains,
“Our waiting list typically hovers at between 300 and 400 patients. The NCMOM Clinics allow people to get immediate treatment without having to wait for months to make it to the top of our waiting list.”
Local dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, and x-ray and lab techs are also encouraged to attend as volunteers.
NCMOM encourages the volunteer spirit as “a soul satisfying experience because it comes from the goodness of your own heart, with no expectation of receiving anything in return.” The success of the weekend-long clinic depends on having plenty of professionals on hand to serve the needs of the patients.
For more information or to volunteer, call the Jackson County Health Department at (828) 586-8994 or the Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic at (828) 743-3393.