Medical Teams International (MTI) is a humanitarian aid organization that also drives localized health initiatives, such as the Mobile Dental Program, coming to Kingston on April 1.
The Mobile Dental Program provides free or low-cost care to patients in urgent need who lack dental insurance or the ability to pay for dental treatment.
The mobile dental van will be in Kingston from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 1 and will be parked at Kingston Christian Church, 11255 NE Second St. The visit is sponsored by ShareNet. Whether internationally or at home, MTI likes to partner with established local services to leverage every donation dollar.
To help you remember the date, this clinic coincides with April Fool’s Day — but untreated dental issues are nothing to fool around about. Untreated dental problems can lead to debilitating health issues, as well as chronic pain, speech problems and difficulty eating.
Patients will be prioritized according to need, and booking an appointment in advance is recommended. To book an appointment, contact local volunteer Rebecca Ifland at 360-440-7446 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By this article’s publication date in late March, it is possible the appointments will be filled, but it’s still worth a try to make the contact. Even if a patient is not able to be seen that day, a consulting hygienist will be available.
The mobile dental van has traditionally visited Kingston once annually in the fall, but hopefully this year’s additional spring clinic signals a twice-a-year commitment.
MTI’s primary domestic work is through the dental program. They estimate nearly a third of uninsured emergency room visits could have been more effectively addressed through dental care. At ShareNet, dental concerns are one of the chief medical complaints heard from clients, because those struggling with poverty often have a history of poor dental care and under-served treatment.
Many children and adults in poverty live with the discomfort and attendant health ramifications of minimal to no dental treatment. It doesn’t help that there is a shortage of dental professionals in the Pacific Northwest, which is projected to continue. After cost, the next most common obstacle for many in rural communities is accessibility of location.
MTl’s website states they have been able to reduce ER expenses for uninsured patients with dental disease, providing effective treatment at a cost of $100-$125 per patient. Many uninsured end up in an emergency room for relief, but ERs are not set up to treat dental problems and cost there is about $765 per visit. MTI also gives preventative care, providing children with kid-friendly information and dental supplies, as well as classroom instruction.
The van has been coming to Kingston for about four years. A member of Kingston Christian Church met an Edmonds dentist on the ferry who was interested in providing such services, and they combined efforts with MTI. At the fall 2016 clinic, about 16 people were served.
ShareNet’s sponsorship of the April 1 Mobile Dental Program event includes funding for dental equipment and supplies, vehicle operation and labor-related expenses.
MTI’s fully-equipped vans are staffed by licensed dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants who are volunteering their time. In Washington and Oregon, they expect to serve 20,000 people this year in 1.400 clinics. These 11 vans and 850 volunteers will provide an estimated $6.5 million value of dental service; 41 percent of those served are children.
— Mark Ince is executive director of ShareNet. You can contact him at 360-297-2266, ext. 3, or email@example.com.