By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
It takes a lot of help to provide free dental services to nearly 2,000 uninsured people over two days’ time.
Oklahoma Mission of Mercy, an annual two-day event where dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and medical assistants set up shop and give dental exams, extractions, fillings, root canals and teeth cleanings on a first-come, first-served basis, is slated for Feb. 7-8 at Chisholm Trail Expo Center.
There are no eligibility or income requirements for those who are treated — they need only be in need of dental care.
Besides professionals in the dental and medical fields, many other volunteers will be needed to make OKMOM happen.
Enid dentist Dr. Tim Fagan, president of the Oklahoma Dental Association and chair of 2014 OKMOM, said about 1,000 community volunteers will be needed.
“People might think they need a special skill set, but what they need is a giving heart and a willingness to help,” Fagan said.
Volunteers will be needed to serve as patient escorts, set up equipment on the floor of the Expo Center Feb. 6 and remove it after the event, be translators, assist with filling out paperwork, man the patient exit area, cook and serve meals, help direct traffic in the parking lot and the like.
“We’re still short on food for volunteers and patients,” Fagan said. “If a restaurant or a civic group wanted to come in and cook a meal, we’re looking for volunteers to do that.”
As for helpful skills, electricians, equipment movers, forklift operators, plumbers, security personnel, and entertainers.
Fagan and Janet Cordell, coordinator of Enid Community Clinic, appear in the current Community Talk show on Pegasys, talking about the upcoming OKMOM in Enid.
At the 2013 OKMOM clinic in Lawton, 7,042 dental procedures were done on 1,786 patients. More than $1.1 million worth of dental services were donated.
Tanna Vu, tourism director for the Lawton Chamber of Commerce, said OKMOM brought a large influx of people needing lodging into the community.
“We had 523 room nights from that,” Vu said.
But the number of hotel rooms booked was hardly the most important thing.
“There’s a bigger benefit than the dollars, and that is how the community feels about helping these people,” said Debra Burch, president and CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.
Volunteer sign-up for OKMOM will begin Oct. 15 and run through mid-January. To volunteer, go to okmom.org and sign up.
“All OKMOM volunteers will receive a very nice OKMOM T-shirt plus a commemorative pin for helping,” Fagan said. “Groups are encouraged to volunteer, but each person in the group needs to individually register. In all areas of the clinic, there are morning, afternoon and all day shifts that people can sign up for.”
Fagan and Cordell are both available to speak to groups about the upcoming OKMOM. Fagan can be reached at (580) 233-0043 and Cordell can be reached at (580) 233-5300.