The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 9, 2013

Dental official: Mission of Mercy has helped 7,500 people

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Oklahoma Mission of Mercy provides a needed service, performing dental care for those who do not have regular care.

Of the people who attend mobile dental Mission of Mercy, 87 percent have no dental insurance, Dr. Tim Fagan said Monday. The mobile dental mission will be available Feb. 7-8 at Chisholm Trail Expo Center. Fagan, an Enid dentist who is president of Oklahoma Dental Association, said the clinic will be in Oklahoma for the fifth time.

There will be 31 dental centers set up for the patients who come to the clinic, some of whom will be in line hours before the 4 a.m. opening time. Dentists and hygienists will clean teeth, put in fillings and do extractions that need to be done. Fagan said some root canals on front teeth will be done.

“We have 130 chairs,” said Fagan, who practices pediatric dentistry in Enid. “Since we began, we have provided care to 7,500 people.”

Fagan said there is a need for volunteers for Mobile Dental Mission of Mercy. Organizers are expecting 1,000 people per day and need volunteers to keep the crowd organized. They need volunteers to act as translators, escorts, parking control and to set up and take down the clinic, Fagan said.

There will be some business people from the Oklahoma Panhandle volunteering to help. Fagan said there are only four dentists in the Oklahoma Panhandle, but none take Medicare or welfare.

“The Oklahoma Panhandle is a very underserved area,” Fagan said.

Only half of the U.S. population receives regular dental care. Oklahoma has dental Medicaid for children, but not for adults. He said fewer employers are providing dental insurance for their employees.

Fagan asked members of Enid Rotary Club on Monday to help spread the word about the need for volunteers and that the clinic also will accept donations. He said it will take about $150,000 to hold the clinic. Delta Dental Oral Care Foundation donates $100,000 every year. Fagan said about $8,000 remains to be raised for this year’s clinic.

There is a cost for rental of the dental equipment, about $40,000 for purchase of materials, some cost for rental of the Expo Center and about $20,000 for other rentals.

“We still need a little more money,” Fagan said. “We will give away $1 million of oral care for $150,000.”

Service Electric, of Enid, donated $17,000 worth of electrical equipment.

Also on the agenda is breakfast and lunch for volunteers and patients both days. He said some Enid restaurants have stepped in to provide lunches.

“We open at 4 a.m., and a lot of people will have been there for quite a while before we open so they will need some breakfast,” Fagan said. “Some people will be there for six hours before a dentist sees them and they will need some lunch.”

Buffalo Wild Wings will provide lunch one day and hamburgers will be provided one day by AdvancePierre Foods.

Janet Cordell, coordinator of Enid Community Clinic, urged those who are considering volunteering not to wait.

“We often do things at the last minute. We already have 1,055 people already registered, so we still need some more,” Cordell said.

Two Enid dentists, Dr. Larry Kiner and Dr. Jim Mabry, will volunteer their time for the clinic, Fagan said.

Volunteers can work morning, afternoon or night shifts or can work all day, he said.

Fagan said there are 30 charitable clinics in Oklahoma, but none in Enid. Cordell hopes to assemble a Venture Grant from the United Way that will bring Mobile Smiles dental lab to Enid monthly.

For more information about February’s clinic, go to www.okmom.org.