NWDDS Summer Meeting Tests Our Mettle
With attention spans severely tested on a supremely beautiful, sunny summer day – with a perfect view of the perfect sand beach of the resort only yards away to the left of the audience! – the Northwestern District hosted its summer meeting at the Detroit Lakes Holiday Inn Friday, June 15. Attendance was strong, not necessarily due to the location within the resort. (The lecture room was set up in the beachside bar area. The flashing neon proved not to be too much of a distraction!)
Traveling all the way from his position as professor in the prosthodontics department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, our presenter, Dr. Sorin Uram- Tuculescu kept the group’s attention with nice in-depth presentations on “Dental Patient Management” as well as “Esthetics and Dentistry”.
Dr. Tuculescu is originally from Timisoara, Romania, where he received his D.M.D. and Ph.D. (The fi rst Romanian titanium-based dental prostheses were cast during his thesis preparation.) He served as a faculty member, hospital dentist, and maintained a part-time private practice.
Dr. Tuculescu’s Romanian kinship and friendship with district President-Elect Julia Fosman (also from Romania) brought him for his fi rst visit to northern Minnesota, but also engaged the audience with his perspectives coming from the Continent and having many unique observations to share from his global experience.
This meeting was also the first opportunity for district members and their offices to meet the MDA’s new Executive Director, Carmelo Cinqueonce. Not one to be outdone, Dr. Mike Zakula with his attendance at this meeting became possibly the first MDA officer ever — at least in recent memory — to attend three consecutive meetings of the NWDDS! Thank you Zak!!
Wisconsin Mission of Mercy June 29-30, 2012
A normal daily dental office schedule might have a dozen patients. Throw in some hygiene and double or triple that. But when 3,595 patients were provided free dental care on two days in Madison, THAT was a BIG schedule! With that, the Wisconsin Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy lived up to its name of MegaMOM!
The fourth annual WDA Mission of Mercy was the largest ever among MOM events anywhere around the country. Eighteen hundred volunteers and hundreds of thousands of dollars of support, donations, and services made it possible to triage and treat so many people. Individuals of all descriptions, families large and small; people speaking English, Spanish, Hmong, and a smattering of other languages began lining up almost 24 hours before the doors would open.
The numbers of patients beginning to gather were small to start, but throughout the entire day while hundreds of volunteers worked to convert the event center into a giant dental office, people desiring access to dental care slowly caused the line to grow. It was warm overnight, and by 8:00 a.m. it was 80º, sun and humidity. MOM personnel periodically checked along the line, asking how far folks had travelled, being friendly, and especially attending to how they were doing in the heat. The temperature hit 92 on set-up day!
Hundreds more people arrived through the night. By the time the doors opened at 5:30 a.m. there were almost 2,000 people waiting.
Once triaged for medical condition, patients went to dental triage. A critical task for dentists in this area is to understand the concept of triage – not anything average dentists in their own offi ces employ in the way needed at a MOM. In dental triage, dentists are equipped with a tongue blade and fl ashlight or a lighted dental mirror, giving them a reasonable look into the oral cavity, not like the detail possible under normal dental office conditions.
Patients identify their chief complaint as well as their overall oral health concerns. From this information, the triage dentist establishes a highest priority. The goal is that each patient has at least is or her first priority addressed. Once treated, they may return to the line and come through for their next priority. After dental triage, patients are routed to appropriate treatment areas.
From “Extractions” (2,822 over two days) to “Fillings” ( 2,567), “Cleanings” or “Kids”, to “Lab” (where a limited number of treatment partial dentures were fabricated same-day or overnight), every department was really hopping with activity! For patients who had endured dangerous daytime temperatures and long hours overnight, the wait was now going to provide them at least some relief from pain, infection, or other diffi culties with their oral health. The Minnesota contingent was pressed into service at “Routing”, which turned out to be a great training experience in a critical step of the process.
The Wisconsin hosts and event leaders were very well prepared and extremely helpful and supportive. In addition to a dozen or so Minnesota MOM participants, they mentored leaders for upcoming first-time events in Michigan and Pennsylvania for 2013.
Having planned and prepared for more than a year for the first Minnesota MOM event — August 16/17 in Mankato — the Minnesotans continued to learn, prepare, plan, and improve through their participation in all aspects of the Madison MOM and the complete information sharing of the WDA MOM. Enough good cannot be said about state co-chairpersons Drs. Gene Shoemaker and Jim Morgenroth (with Dr. Tom Raiman serving as vice-chair and Dr. Allison Dowd the local chair) along with the fantastic work of Lani Becker, Wisconsin Dental Association Director of Member Services and Information Technology, regarding their leadership in the successful conduct of the 2012 MegaMOM (as well as the three preceding Wisconsin MOMs) and their generous tutelage!
By the numbers:
• 3,595 patient visits
• $1.75 million in care provided
• 1,205 cleanings
• 2,567 fillings
• 2,822 extractions
• 153 partial dentures
• 80 root canals
• 11 upper and 10 lower dentures Returning to the only slightly less hot northern reaches of Minnesota — a bag or two of cheese curds in hand — the Williams, Sjulsons, and yours truly had quite an impressive volunteer experience to digest, from which to glean information useful to the operation of the upcoming Minnesota Mission of Mercy at Mankato in August and the June 2013 BjiMOM in Bemidji.
But the real focus of a Mission of Mercy is to — through the providing of significant amounts of free dental care to those among us who are in need — raise awareness of the barriers to dental care faced by low-income adults and children, and challenge patients, state policymakers, and dental professionals to work together to improve the oral health of all Minnesota residents. If you volunteer, you will make a difference. For others. For yourself. For our communities. For our profession.