Wisconsin Dental Association: Mission of Mercy bringing free dental care to La Crosse for two days

CONTACT: Carol S. Weber, APR, Director of Public Relations

PHONE: 414-755-4108 (direct)

E-MAIL: [email protected]

WEST ALLIS, WIS., June 4, 2009 – The 2,900-member Wisconsin Dental Association and WDA Foundation are teaming up for a Mission of Mercy, also known as MOM, to provide free dental care to 1,200 children and adults on June 26 and 27 at the La Crosse Center, 300 Harborview Plaza. Doors open at 6 a.m. with an estimated 600 patients being treated each day on a first-come, first-served basis.

Adults and children of all ages who are uninsured, underinsured or otherwise unable to visit a dental office and do not have a medically-compromising condition, such as extremely high blood pressure or severe disabilities, that prohibits receiving care are welcome. Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Cleanings, fillings, extractions and limited treatment partials will be offered at an estimated value of $600,000. All work will be provided free by utilizing a team of 1,000 volunteers including dentists, dental hygienists and assistants, dental students and community members who are donating their time and skills.

This group includes nine dentists and hygienists from four other states. They will be the first to utilize Wisconsin’s new temporary, no-fee permit for out-of-state dental professionals wanting to travel here and volunteer at charitable care programs. State legislators Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), Sen. Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse), Rep. Chris Danou (D-Trempealeau) and Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) worked with their colleagues to secure timely, bipartisan passage of the charity dental care permit legislation which Gov. Jim Doyle signed last month.

MOM corporate partners are Delta Dental of Wisconsin and Henry Schein Dental. Other collaborating organizations include America’s Dentists Care Foundation, Cleary Management, La Crosse Area Dental Care Advocacy Coalition, La Crosse County Health Department, La Crosse District Dental Society, LHI, Marquette University School of Dentistry and Viterbo School of Nursing. Participating dental supply companies are 3M ESPE, Dentsply Professional, Holt Dental, Johnson & Johnson/Listerine, Komet USA and Patterson Dental.

Tax-deductible financial donations and in-kind contributions may be made to the WDA Foundation to help cover $133,000 in dental equipment and facility rental, supplies, pharmaceuticals and food costs for this major charitable care event which includes a full day for set up on June 25 and clean up on June 28. Visit http://www.wda.org for more information.

Almost 1 million Wisconsin residents enroll in the state dental Medicaid, BadgerCare and BadgerCare Plus programs during a 1-year period. In Wisconsin, state and federal governments spend less than 1 percent or just $38 million of a $4.4 billion annual MA budget on oral health programs for children and adults.

“Dentists do serve, but charity alone is not the answer,” explains WDA Vice President and MOM Chair Dr. Gene Shoemaker of Waukesha. “Mission of Mercy is not a solution, but it helps meet some individuals’ urgent dental care needs while bringing awareness to the underlying access problem.”

“The most important way to make a difference in the future oral health of low-income adults and children is for state lawmakers to place a higher priority on dental MA funding,” Shoemaker says.

Established in 1870, the Wisconsin Dental Association is headquartered in West Allis. With more than 2,900 members statewide, the WDA represents the vast majority of practicing dentists in Wisconsin. Its members are committed to promoting professional excellence and quality oral health care. The WDA is one of 53 constituent (state-territorial) dental societies of the American Dental Association – the largest and oldest national dental association in the world. For more information on the WDA, call 414-276-4520 or visit http://www.wda.org.