Tonight I went directly to the fairgrounds after work to interview some people who were waiting in line at the Mission of Mercy. They were lining up for free dental care.
The Mission of Mercy has been held in different places around the state. This is the first time it has been in Hutchinson. It’s quite amazing. And very humbling.
I heard some incredible stories from people who can’t afford care for one reason or another. The first woman in line got there at 7 a.m. this morning, hoping to get care today, but they were already full.
They take 1000 patients each day, and they had those 1000 before she arrived this morning. She was in tremendous pain, with four shattered teeth from falling on the ice a couple of days ago. She is disabled and lives on about $700 a month.
It was cold today and people were outdoors until 8:15 p.m. when they let people into a building instead of having to be out in the cold all night. But, there was no food for people as they waited.
There were young families on up through older people. I didn’t see any truly elderly folks there – I think they just couldn’t handle the cold.
Obviously, there’s tremendous need. Almost everyone I talked to was working, most of them insured, and they still couldn’t afford care.
The Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, who was at the event, logs what procedures were done and each one is given a set cost that is the average charged by dentists across the state. Following are the totals.
Overall, they treated a total of 1638 patients for a record $1,248,344.90 in free dental care. This included 4389 extactions. These are the total for the whole 2 day event.On the first day alone the totals were 902 people treated, and the value of services was $744,252.70.