The Catholic Charities Mobile Response Center Vehicle was on hand to meet and encourage residents in need to take advantage of free dental and health screenings with staff members from Doctors Community Hospital at the Susan D. Mona Center in Temple Hills, Feb. 6.
Several Prince George’s County residents (along with residents from surrounding counties) participated in the first-come, first-served basis service between 1-4 p.m. Patients received oral health guidance and giveaway bags filled with supplies to continue their oral health care.
In addition to the screenings, the walk-in patients were setup with subsequent dental and medical appointments at the clinic, which serves uninsured people with low incomes. Legal, immigration and financial guidance were made available as well.
It was the second philanthropic event offering to residents since its initial screening held in January where approximately 50 combined adult and children participated.
The Catholic Charities staff members were elated with the turnout of residents which included 32 participants receiving oral exams, 19 medical exams, 13 immigration service informational sessions, 3 legal information sessions and 6 receiving Financial Stability guidance during the event.
Jasmine Pazmino, Dental Services Program manager for Catholic Charities of Archdiocese of Washington, explained the team of doctors is building a relationship with the potential patient by going over a general diagnosis of their dental health.
“Patients are offered the opportunity to come back for a follow-up appointment. Generally, that future appointment would be a $75 value, which includes X-Rays and a comprehensive exam; but because they attended today’s screening their next visit would be significantly reduced to $20,” Pazmino said. “We’re hoping to do as well with participants coming here as we did on our first event. We had an 89 percent conversion rate. So out of the 49 people that we saw, 39 actually made follow-up appointments. And those few who didn’t were children or adults who already had dental insurance and they didn’t make an appointment here because we don’t participate with any insurance.”
Pazmino explained a lot of the patients suffer from periodontal disease; need extractions, dentures and other enhanced dental treatment.
She added patients are in good hands and shouldn’t be afraid of dentists and they have bilingual dental assistants.
Joseph Dempsey, Catholic Charities director of stewardship, said, “We initially did just the dental event in January and about 50 people came through. It was a good way of getting people on the site, but more importantly, into the building where they saw that it was nice and they got their dental check-up. A lot of people called after the fact saying, ‘Jeeze, I missed it; are you going to do it again?” So, based on the success, we decided to do it again and we got the good people from the Doctors Hospital Center who gladly said yes,” Dempsey said.
Demsey noted their legal and immigration legal team set up a table in the lobby entrance. “We have an attorney from the legal network, which handles all manner of non-criminal stuff. Additionally, we have an attorney from our Immigration Legal Services here both available three days a week at the Mona Center, opening cases, files, and if action is needed we pair them up with a pro bono attorney with a specialty in that particular field,” Dempsey said.
Rachel Bennion, an Immigration Services attorney said, “We help people with all kinds of immigration processes, such as gaining legal status here, family petitions or people who are victims of crime or domestic violence.
Bennion noted, “It’s very important that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) people and those who’ve had Temporary Protected Status (TPS) status get screened by an immigration attorney immediately. “Every case is unique. Sometimes people are eligible for other benefits besides DACA and TPS. We’ve have a good strong wave of people in the beginning and looking for more to participate,” Bennion concluded.
“I love seeing patients, this is what God has called me to do. To provide whatever needs the patient has. I’m in the business of serving people” said Dr. Kimberly Morris, a dentist with 25 years experience. “The biggest issue is because of our health care system, a lot of things are very expensive to care of, like medical and dental issues. So here with Catholic Charities we’re able to offer all facets of dental care, medical treatment at a fraction of the cost, as opposed to going to a private dentist or doctor,” Morris said. “So… yes it’s not free, but it’s a deep discount on our fees and services that we provide.” During the dental screenings, Morris emphasized the importance to her patients of dental hygiene and not waiting until they loose a tooth to come back for care.
Shelly Rohrer noted she was glad to hear about the dental screenings opportunity. “I’m happy because there are not many places that offer these type of services,” the Leonardtown resident said.
Rohrer’s friend, Rebecca Banks, a St. Mary’s County resident said, “This place is really a God-send. My husband who did the plumbing in this building during the renovation period told me about the program,” Banks said. “I need dentures and they’re really expensive and I can’t afford them on a regular [fee schedule].
For more information concerning future free dental and health screenings hosted by centers attached to the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Washington, visit www.catholiccharitiesdc.org