September 25, 2017

The University of Maryland School of Public Health's Center for Health Equity, in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington and the Maryland State Dental Association transformed the University of Maryland's Xfinity Center into a mobile dental clinic for the Mid-Maryland Mission of Mercy and Health Equity Festival (MOM). This marks the second time Catholic Charities and the university have collaborated on the event, which offered free dental and wraparound health services to adults on a first come-first served basis.

During the two treatment days of September 8 & 10, 1,700 volunteers treated 858 patients with over 2,000 dental procedures worth more than $750,000.  The dental care provided included x-rays, cleanings, fillings, extraction, and root canals, along with several cutting-edge new treatments offered this year.  Catholic Charities Jim Nalls described the dental services to the Catholic Standard, "We've gotten much more sophisticated in the services we offer, and more significant dentistry with a greater work value," was offered at this event.  New this year: partial dentures, silver diamine fluoride caries treatment, and CERAC computer designed crowns.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller, one of several elected officials who attended the event, told the crowd that though he'd been to may basketball games at the Xfinity Center over the years, "Honestly and truly, I don't think this facility has been put to a better use than it is today."

"We have people who have not smiled in years leave here smiling," M-CHE Director Stephen Thomas told the Catholic Standard.

As patients waited for dental treatment, they were invited to visit the Health Equity Festival portion of the event, where over twenty exhibitors provided wraparound health services including flu vaccines, health screenings (diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, BMI, CO) vision testing, insurance and state health exchange assistance, nutrition information, mental health services, social services, and free haircuts.  The total values of donated dental and health services is estimated to top $1M.

The success of the MOM was dependent on the partnership between UMD, Catholic Charities, the MSDA, and the extensive network of volunteers, exhibitors, and sponsors.  Major sponsors for the event included Cigna Foundation, Adventist HealthCare, and Kaiser Permanente.  The full list of sponsors can be viewed here.

Multiple media outlets covered the MOM, and the event was shared across numerous social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  In addition to UMD and CCADW accounts, numerous volunteers shared their experiences via social media.  Some other key mentions include those from the Archdiocese of Washington, NBC4 (Facebook), City of College Park, Prince George's County Health Department, El Pregonero, and United Way Central Maryland.

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Stephen B. Thomas