Our Dedication to the Community
It’s Friday afternoon and my day with patients is winding down. This weekend I will be volunteering at the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic held at Cal Expo. RAM provides free medical, dental and vision care to those less fortunate who can’t afford care and don’t have insurance. This is the second year that RAM as an organization has held clinics in Northern California. Last year I volunteered for 2 days in the Sacramento clinic along with my dedicated assistants Christina and Lindsey.
The dental clinic at last year’s Sacramento RAM broke records in terms of how much free work was provided. I, personally, screened close to 1000 patients over the course of 2 mornings and did extractions and fillings on 40 or so of those I screened. Despite the amazing turnout of volunteers and the unbelievable efforts that were made, I left each day on the verge of tears.
It’s difficult to see row after row of people patiently waiting for free care, that seems to never end. The lines formed as early as 2 days before the start of the clinic with people camping out in the cold in order to be seen. It just seemed like the need was endless, and despite how many dentists there were volunteering, it could never be met. Patients in the clinic were only provided with one filling, one extraction or a cleaning. Due to time constraints it was all we could do for each individual. But it wasn’t enough. I saw countless mouths wrecked with decay. Cavities and broken teeth caused by poor diet, lack of knowledge and lack of care. It was extremely disheartening and discouraging to see humanity laid before me in such need, with no real way to solve all of the problems.
But, I’m not giving up and I’m going back. RAM returns to Sacramento this weekend—in fact, it’s going on as I write this and will continue until Monday evening. I already saw a news report on Thursday that showed people camping out in the Cal Expo parking lots waiting to be seen. I don’t know how many of those in need will find their way into my dental chair, but I’m going to help as many of them as I can.
Yours in good (dental) health,
Dr. Stefanie Shore, DDS