Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Kansas Mission of Mercy: 645 smiles

  • During the first of two days in Dodge City, the Kansas Mission of Mercy dental clinic treated 645 patients at the Western State Bank Expo Center at an estimated value of $516,660.
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  • During the first of two days in Dodge City, the Kansas Mission of Mercy dental clinic treated 645 patients at the Western State Bank Expo Center at an estimated value of $516,660.
    "That's a pretty good day; double that tomorrow and that'll get us over a million," said Greg Hill, the director of the charity. "A lot of dentistry made that happen."
    Among the day one successes was a high rate of turnout for children specially targeted by school guidance counselors and nurses. Of the 40 given special entry passes, 39 showed, said Dr. Ronald Strader, who headed up the triaging unit.
    "We've done it in years past, this one has just been extremely successful," he said. The usual expectation is that half the children targeted will arrive.
    The specialty pediatric unit headed by Dr. Glenn Hemberger saw about 90 children Friday.
    When patients arrive, they are asked about their principle concerns, and Strader and his group try to accommodate the patients. Around 80 translators were on hand to help with any language barriers.
    Generally, "The state of dental care in Dodge City seems pretty good," Hill said, saying that in other years the oral surgery department would be working late past the hygiene department.
    "In the ideal world, hygiene would be the busiest," Hill said, but the charity aims to reach people who have little access to advanced dental care or dental insurance.
    Dr. Jeff Stasch, one of the original organizers of the mission, said the dental issues were representative of the mostly blue collar, mobile workforce without a significant continuity in dental care.
    Hill and Strader took the opportunity to recognize the residents of Dodge City who helped out, citing complete participation by local dentists and a large number of other volunteers.
    "I think it shoes commitment in the community to the project," Hill said.
    "The volunteers have been awesome," Strader said.
    Among the volunteers was Jean Richardson, whose stars on her name badge indicated she was at her fourth Kansas Mission of Mercy.
    Since starting by volunteering in Hutchinson, each year Richardson has taken a day off of work as a middle school language arts teacher to assist the clinic.
    "Everyone looks so happy, and I enjoy that," she said.
    With the number of available volunteers, her duty in the middle of the day was to prevent patients from walking through the work areas to the bathrooms used by medical staff in the back of the expo center.
    She didn't mind.
    "Everybody's needed. It might not seem like much of a job, but everybody's needed."
    The makeshift clinic originally sought to serve between 800 and 1,000 patients per day, but fewer front-line staff than expected could make it, perhaps due to the incoming winter storm.
    Page 2 of 2 - To accommodate the number of medical staff, the charity's leaders decided to cut off entry at around 5 a.m. after around 600 patients came through the door.
    Five hours later they met again to decide whether to re-open the doors, but instead decided to focus on more intensive treatment for the waiting patients.
    "It was a good day, everyone in the building was treated," Hill said.
    This article differs from the print edition by reporting updated totals from the first day of the event.
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