WISE — Residents in or near Southwest Virginia will be welcome to the 21st annual Missions of Mercy (MoM) free dental clinic in Wise next week.
The Virginia Dental Association Foundation has conducted the MoM dental clinic in conjunction with the former Health Wagon/Remote Area Medical annual summer clinic for two decades. This year’s clinic will be on Friday-Saturday, July 22 and 23 at the David Prior Convocation Center at UVA Wise.
All volunteers and patients will be tested for COVID prior to entering UVA Wise’s Convocation Center.
Clinic hours will be 7 a.m.-5 p.m. each day of the clinic, and pre-registration starts at noon on July 21. Patients are encouraged to arrive early. Adult and child patients will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis for most immediate needs. Patients should be prepared for long waiting lines.
Services available at the July clinic will include dental exams, cleanings, fillings, oral surgery and X-rays. While free dentures have been offered at previous clinics, clinic specialists will only be screening patients this year for the 2023 Mission of Mercy clinic denture waiting list.
Clinic patients are encouraged to wear comfortable clothes and to bring food and drink for the day. No overnight parking on the UVA Wise campus will be allowed before and during the clinic. Parking for each day of the clinic opens at the Convocation Center parking lots at 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
“In addition to the painful challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic the past two years, many of our neighbors in Southwest Virginia have struggled with little access to oral health care,” said Virginia Dental Association Foundation Executive Director Tara Quinn. “Poor oral health is linked to chronic disease, childhood illnesses, and even lost school and work hours. We are honored to return to serve our neighbors in the Wise County area again this year and are grateful for the many volunteers and supporters that power the MoM program.”
VDAF member Dr. Terry Dickinson started MoM in 2000. This summer’s clinic will involve approximately 300 dentists, professionals and volunteers working in the air-conditioned Convocation Center for patient comfort.
Mission of Mercy has served more than 24,000 patients and provided over $21.1 million in free dental care in Wise County in the past two decades.
In conjunction with the dental clinic, The Health Wagon will have a mobile clinic onsite each day to provide women’s free health services, according to Health Wagon CEO Dr. Teresa Tyson.
The Health Wagon will also handle referrals for dental care after the MoM clinic, Tyson said.