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State program aids those without dental insurance

BY GRACE PATERAS | OCTOBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa junior Carina Chandlee was one of more than 100 UI students and faculty who volunteered at this year’s free dental service weekend.

“As a student, I can’t imagine not being able to afford dental care,” Chandlee said. “I’m so glad there is a clinic like this people can go to for free, whether it’s for hygiene or a root canal. Dental care is really important to have.”

Iowa Mission of Mercy, which is a program that provides free dental service one weekend throughout the year, was held this past weekend at the Sullivan Brothers Convention Center in Waterloo.

Iowa Mission of Mercy is a program designed to help patients receive free dental services for one weekend a year, starting in 2008.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are about 108 million people across the nation do not have dental insurance.

For the past seven years, the program, which is sponsored by the Iowa Dental Foundation, has provided 9,600 free dental services to patients.

This past year’s event has aided 1,102 services alone.

Around 1,000 volunteers gathered from around Iowa to help in this event.

From the University of Iowa, 170 faculty and students were apart of that.

“I think [the program] is getting wider at the UI,” said Kathy Salisbury, program manager for Iowa Dental Foundation. “Not only in the dental school … more students are being part of it.”

Salisbury said the program has allowed volunteers to treat those in need of dental care.

This year, $760,000 was saved by services provided by Mission of Mercy. In total, $6.26 million were saved to help the 9,600 patients accumulated from all seven years.

Volunteers, depending on their focus and specialties, are able to provide their work on patients.

“Students are assigned to treatment based on their positions,” said UI Clinical Associate Professor Patricia Meredith, the dental chief of Mission of Mercy. “They are given the opportunity to experience of giving back to the community.”

Chandlee said she was a general volunteer, meaning she wasn’t given a choice in which area she would serve.

Being placed at the exit to distribute surveys for attendees allowed Chandlee to communicate with everyone who passed through the lines and discuss their services.

“All people who came through was so happy to be able to receive treatment, regardless of what they had done that day,” she said.


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