Bill Truax, a retired Fort Meyers dentist, is on a mission to educate the medical community and the public about the growing need for quality dental care among the uninsured.
Truax and 40 other Fort Meyers-area dentists and staffers are seeking to publicize the Florida Mission of Mercy event at the Florida State Fairgrounds on March 28th and 29th. The event provides dental care to uninsured patients. Organizers expect to reach almost 2,000 patients.
Patients attending the event can receive tooth extractions, root canals, and denture work. Also available is more routine dental care, such as cleanings, exams, and even fillings. Patients can receive tooth-colored fillings or the more traditional amalgam (metal) fillings, all at no cost whatsoever to the patients.
Last month a report was released showing that Florida hospitals and emergency departments treated 139,000 dental patients in 2012, costing about $141 million. Lee County (where Truax is hoping to garner more support for his cause) was responsible for 4,456 of those cases, at a cost of roughly $3.5 million.
“It concerns me that the community doesn’t know about this,” says Truax.
The Florida Mission of Mercy event is an extension of a larger organization, Mission of Mercy (MOM), which strives to provide prescription medications, dental care, and healthcare, free of charge, to those who “fall through the cracks of our healthcare system“. MOM receives no government funding, and so can provide these services regardless of a patient’s ability to prove their residency or financial status.
MOM sponsors events (such as the Florida event), fosters awareness, and maintains 17 clinics in Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Arizona, providing over 25,000 free visits to patients every year.
A mission statement provided by MOM states their goal to “restore dignity and ‘healing through Love’ at mobile clinics, providing free health care and medications.”