Genesis Foundation Sponsors Iowa Mission of Mercy
On the afternoon or early evening of Sept. 19 the first person will start the line outside The RiverCenter in Davenport.
The people who line up won’t be waiting to buy coveted tickets to a concert or play. They will be first in line for free dental care from the Iowa Mission of Mercy.
The Iowa Mission of Mercy, supported this year by funding from the Genesis Foundation, returns to Davenport for the first time since 2012 on Sept. 20-21. It will be the 12th annual event.
Free dental care will be available each day from 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Since its first year in 2008, Iowa Mission of Mercy has provided more than $9.3 million in dental care to more than 14,000 patients.
Over the two days, as many as 1,500 patients will receive fillings, cleanings, have extractions and root canals. Front plates will be available.
Bettendorf dentist Kyle Gagliardo is a state chair for Iowa Mission of Mercy organization. He enlisted the help of Dr. Ben Lloyd of Great River Dentistry, Davenport, to help organize this year’s local effort.
“It’s very cool to be part of something like this,’’ Dr. Gagliardo said. “We’re getting to see people who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
“Maybe they have no dental insurance or poor insurance. Insurance doesn’t matter. We can drop all of the paperwork and hassles we sometimes have and just help these people.’’
The event is available to everyone, regardless of residence. Patients came from as far away as Wisconsin at the last Mission of Mercy event in Davenport in 2012.
“The first person lined up at 4 p.m. on the afternoon before it started,’’ Gagliardo said of the 2012 event in Davenport. “There is great need out there. Some of these people may be tired and hungry … we see quite a cross-section of people at these events.’’
A small community pops up to provide the care. There will be child care and food available. Hundreds of volunteers, about half of them serving non-clinical roles, will participate.
“It’s a very large event when you talk about seeing 1,500 patients over two days,’’ Dr. Lloyd said. “We won’t be asking where anyone lives. There is no residency requirement. We’ll probably see patients from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota.
“Helping people is why I wanted to be a dentist. We have to charge for services to maintain our offices and support our families but taking care of people who need care without any concern about whether they have insurance or any payment at all is rewarding and very efficient.’’
Dr. Lloyd also participated in the 2012 event in Davenport and a 2016 event in Dubuque.
Missy Gowey, executive director of the Genesis Foundation, said Iowa Mission of Mercy fits well with the Foundation’s mission.
“The Genesis Foundation is honored to be able to help provide support for this event,’’ said Missy Gowey, executive director of the Genesis Foundation. “We know that the mouth is the gateway to overall health and if our dental health is neglected, it affects our overall health.
“It is exciting to see so many people benefit from this event each year and to see so many volunteers willing to help.’’
The event also receives in-kind donations from Hy-Vee, West Liberty Foods, and other businesses.