Sunday, November 29, 2020
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A Sacred Obligation at the Wise, Virginia Health Fair

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photo-25My title has multiple meanings.

Perhaps that will become clear.

How did you spend your weekend?

At 1:30 AM Thursday I got in my car and drove for about 6 hours through the night to the mountains of Southwest Virginia, which in the daylight are so heart-breakingly beautiful one almost forgets the poverty of so many therein.

photo-24I stopped briefly to check in to my hotel in Norton, then drove a few miles more, through Wise to the Wise County Fairgrounds for yet another "mission," this my 5th.

It was the 15th anniversary of the Wise Virginia Health fair, with dental services provided by the Missions of Mercy of the Virginia Dental Association's foundation and everything else provided by Remote Area Medical, founded by Stan Brock.

Officially the event began on Friday, but first we had to unload these two trucks and set up.  We had many students from the School of Dentistry at VCU, as well as from other colleges and universities.  I will talk some more about the students for whom this too was a sacred obligation, as it was for so many - of course the dentists volunteering under what became extremely difficult circumstances, and general volunteers, like yours truly.

Please keep reading.

The MOM Project – Grundy, Virginia

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in a narrow twisting mountain valley

in an elementary-middle school a few miles outside the small town

in the poorest county in Virginia, with 4 dentists for 26,000 people, 3 well over retirement age, and only one who will take Medicaid

today we saw and treated hundreds of people

we have already screened 59 who will get treatment tomorrow, some of whom got cleanings today, tomorrow to get fillings, root canals, extractions

today I spent over 14 hours helping dentists be of service to people in need

today, doing little but pushing paper, my part in this process, however small it was, did more for the health of Americans in need than the Republicans in Congress (and some of the Blue Dogs) have done in several decades.

I ask that you continue reading.

Wise VA – it’s not Las Vegas

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but it is the reason I am not in Las Vegas.  I am here, in the Appalachian section of Virginia, in the Southwest, less than half an hour from the Kentucky border, for the 11th Annual Remote Area Medical / Mission of Mercy free medical and dental event.  I arrive shortly after noon, after a 6 hour drive from Arlington, and I will be here until late morning Sunday.  

I hope those of you at Netroots Nation, which is already underway, enjoy yourselves and find it worthwhile, as I have found my four previous bloggers' conventions useful and worthwhile.

For me, and I speak only for me, it is more important that I am here.  

And although we have barely begun, perhaps I can offer some sense of why I feel that way.  I invite you to keep reading.

Mission of Mercy – Roanoke: another health care diary

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posted at Daily Kos, Blue Virginia, and Blue Commonwealth

I sit in a house of a friend, in Roanoke County, VA, having just finished the first of two days of volunteering at yet another Mission of Mercy, the free dental projects put on by the Virginia Dental Society, this at the Civic Center in the city of Roanoke.  Yes, as of this week, we have new laws revising health insurance coverage in this nation.  Yet the need for care for many remains unaddressed, and will remain unaddressed for some time to come.  After all, we still insist on separating dental health from general health.  The changes in health insurance by themselves do little to address the crisis of dental health, or the lack thereof, for many in this country.

I am neither a dental or a medical professional.  I volunteer in dental triage, helping with paperwork and patient flow so that the volunteer dentists with whom I work can devote more of their time to patient care.  I have done so in Wise VA in July, Grundy in October, and Springfield 2 weeks ago.  And I will return to Wise in July, which is why I will for the first time not be at our annual gathering, this the 5th back at the site of the 1st in Las Vegas.

I have a few thoughts to offer below the fold, which I invite you to read.