- The two-day event is presented by the New Mexico Dental Association.
- The last time the clinic was held in San Juan County, nearly 1,000 patients were treated.
- Patients can receive cleanings, fillings, crowns, temporary dentures, extractions, x-rays and more at the clinic.
FARMINGTON — Business may not have been as buoyant as organizers anticipated on Sept. 23 during the opening day of the New Mexico Mission of Mercy dental clinic at the McGee Park Convention Center, but it was good news for patients who have come forward to take advantage of the free services.
“Things are going great,” said Dr. Julius Manz, a professor in San Juan College’s dental hygiene program, of the clinic’s first few hours. “I might like to see a few more patients. But the reality is that we can do more for fewer patients.”
Mike Moxie, director of public information for the New Mexico Dental Association, which presented the clinic, echoed that assessment.
“It gives the people here today an opportunity to do a few extra things,” he said. “If it was packed, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
As the hour approached noon on September 23, traffic in the building was steady. There was no line to enter, allowing patients to immediately begin the check-in process, receive a brief dental training, be assessed for their needs, and then wait for a chair to come. opens so they can be treated by a volunteer dentist.
Manz was stationed at the dental determination station, where these initial assessments of a patient’s needs were made. Manz said he has volunteered at seven of the eight Mission of Mercy clinics that have taken place across New Mexico, including the 2013 clinic in San Juan County where nearly 1,000 patients were seen. for two days.
“I was lucky enough to be the president nine years ago. It’s a lot more fun, just to get the job done,” he said. “I don’t have to run the thing.”
Organizers expect a bigger turnout on September 24, the last day of the clinic. Devin Neeley, the spokesperson for San Juan County, which was a major sponsor of the event, said Friday’s relatively small crowd was likely due to people being allowed to make appointments. you in line for the free clinic, the first time this service was offered, and the fact that it was a weekday when many potential patients were working and could not be away for the event.
About 150 patients had been seen by 11 a.m. Friday, and most of the 50 dentists and dozens of dental assistants who volunteered for the event were busy. Moxie pointed out that all of these dental professionals from across the state were there on their own time and even paid for their own transportation and accommodations.
A small line of about two dozen people was waiting outside the convention center when it opened in the pre-dawn darkness that morning. Shiprock resident Vazmire Amore-Tolly, joined by her four children. Amore-Tolly said the family showed up at 2:30 p.m. on September 22 and camped overnight.
The member of her family who needed the most attention was her 17-year-old son, Robert Lopez Jr., who had lost all of his front teeth and some of his back teeth in an accident. Before lunchtime on Friday, he had received a set of flippers – temporary prostheses designed to last six months to a year that were created at the clinic – during his session with Dr Robert Thompson.
“We were able to pinball until it could get something more permanent,” said event co-chair Dr. Jennifer Thompson. “But at least he can smile now.”
Doors to the clinic’s second day will open at 5:15 a.m. Saturday, and Moxie said patients will be admitted until late afternoon, until about 4 p.m. The registration, assessment and processing process takes about two hours, plus any waiting that might occur, Neeley said.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or email@example.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.