The 2011 Oregon Mission of Mercy was very successful. Again.
2,000 patients made it through this year’s event. Compared to last year, that is a 20% increase in the number of patients that were able to receive care. At least the bulk of that improvement is a result of learning from and improving upon the first OrMOM, last year. The first patients in line Monday morning had been in line since around 8am on Sunday.
This year the convention center increased the amount of space OrMOM could use, so there was an indoor waiting room with around 1,200 folding chairs (that we set-up the previous night – amazing how much work motivated volunteers can do!). There was a large movie screen set-up in front of the chairs where “The Incredibles” and “Shrek” (1,2,3??) were shown while people waited in to be seen.
I'm just a "community volunteer" so, as I'm doing my job throughout the event, I can observe the doctors, students and other volunteers in what I believe to be an objective perspective. The doctors, hygienists and assistants are there and volunteer because the WANT to. They want to help in the ways that their unique skills allow them to. There were dental school students that appeared to have a required number of hours to commit, but even they appreciated the significance of the work they were doing.
I watched different volunteers cry with sadness and happiness as they retold stories of the different patients they talked with. Always while making an effort for patients not to see this. In front of the patients it is supportive smiles and kind words.
There were at least one or two patients whom lost patience during the process. But that is not enough to obscure the appreciation and patience of everyone else who received free dental care this week. And that underscores the need and importance of this event in our state.
This whole event is built upon donations of equipment, supplies and volunteered time (you can see a list of contributing business and people here). That makes it particularly special, since no individual, group, or association benefits from the contributions. Only the patients benefit, as it should be.