The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry will sponsor a two-day clinic in Hillsborough on Oct. 10 and 11 that could provide free dental care for as many as several hundred patients.
The dental clinic, to be held at the Big Barn Convention Center, is in partnership with the N.C. Missions of Mercy (MOM) portable free dental program, a branch of the Open Door Dental Clinic of Alamance County.
Patients will be treated on a first-come, first-served basis each day, with registration beginning at 6 a.m., continuing until capacity is reached.
UNC School of Dentistry students and faculty members and other practitioners will provide patient care, with School of Dentistry staff members also assisting the clinic efforts. Students, through the School’s student-led volunteer organization ENNEAD, are largely coordinating the event.
In fact, the UNC School of Dentistry-sponsored clinic in Hillsborough will be the first such event planned with this level of School of Dentistry student coordination – “from planning stages all the way through to the finish,” said Dr. Steven D. Slott, founder and president of the Open Door Dental Clinic.
The School’s Dental Alumni Association is providing funding for costs associated with the two-day clinic, and community groups are providing food and other assistance.
“Over the past 10 years, the Open Door Dental Clinic of Alamance County has enjoyed a very supportive and cooperative relationship with the UNC School of Dentistry through its volunteer student organization, ENNEAD,” Slott said. “Outreach-minded School officials have provided an abundance of help and support for the program, working with the Open Door Dental Clinic to ensure that students would be able to participate and provide quality, supervised dental treatment in each of the more than 50 Missions of Mercy portable free dental clinics that have been held throughout the state.”
ENNEAD recruits dental, dental hygiene and dental assisting student volunteers to serve North Carolina communities by providing free dental care, athletic mouthguards, and oral health education at various events.
Dean John N. Williams said ENNEAD’s ongoing involvement with the N.C. MOM program has given students a critical perspective on the challenges people face in accessing dental care. He added that he appreciated both the leadership they demonstrated in organizing student volunteers for this and other outreach efforts and the commitment of faculty and staff members and alumni who also will take part in the Hillsborough clinic.
“Our students demonstrate a true commitment to helping their fellow citizens,” Williams said. “We want to teach students the values, skills and knowledge they will need to sustain and improve the oral health in their communities as practitioners and also encourage that compassion and involvement they show toward making a difference in the lives of other people.”
Third-year dental student Savannah Gelesko is serving as project manager for the Hillsborough clinic; she has been involved with the MOM program since she was a UNC undergraduate and member of the University’s undergraduate pre-dental honor society, Delta Delta Sigma.
“It’s so important, one of the most important things we can do for people with the training we have been given,” she said, describing the MOM program. “You can see that you are really making a difference in someone’s life. The other aspect is, you see how great the need is and that you must continue to work at these clinics and show the same initiative in your own practice after you graduate to help the people in your community.”
For more information on the Hillsborough MOM clinic, call (336) 226-5349 or visithttp://www.ncmissionsofmercy.org