04/11/2012: "“ToothMobile” Heads For Lopez"
“ToothMobile.” a fully equipped 40-foot mobile dental van, will be on Lopez this Friday & Saturday. In only two days local dental professionals logged 51 volunteer hours, performing nearly $13,000 worth of dental treatments, on 28 individuals when the ToothMobile was in Friday Harbor in January.
Fish for Teeth now has its sites set on Lopez, with a clinic scheduled for April 13-14. The ToothMobile will be parked at the Community Center, next to the Lopez Island Family Resource Center.
“This was one of the most successful clinics I’ve been a part of,” says Ellen Broyles, the van’s driver and Mobile Dental Clinic Manager. “I love serving a population that truly needs the dental care that we can provide; people that may not be able to receive dental care any other way.”
The van is owned and operated by Medical Teams International, a faith-based organization based out of Redmond, WA. It comes fully stocked with material to cover any dental procedure that a regular dental office can perform. “Consider it a dental office on wheels,” says Broyles, whose job is to make the volunteer dental team feel comfortable with their “office” setting, and look after the patients needs, as well.
Local dentists, commercial fishermen, and enthusiastic community members comprise its ranks, and Celia Marquis and Mikah Smith, of the FRC, are handling much of the legwork. Rachel MacSlarrow, an Americorps volunteer working with the FRC, is fluent in Spanish and acting as the interpreter. Mo Pomietto, the School Nurse on Lopez, is also part of the Lopez effort to make this happen. Members of the San Juan County Oral Health Coalition, including Terri MacNichol, Public Health Nurse at the San Juan County Health Department, have also worked to make this happen. Every visit of the ToothMobile is a tremendous undertaking, all done by 100% volunteer effort, and in-kind or financial contributions from individuals.
Of course, there would be no dental work accomplished without dentists, and this time the dental commitment is being covered entirely by the staff of Bayview Dental, which is
Christine Aufderhar, Dentist; Chris Bangsund, Dental Hygienist; Megan Shemil, Dental Assistant; Jennifer Larson, Dental Assistant. Many thanks to this wonderful team for two solid days of volunteer work to benefit the dental health of Lopez Islanders!
Another important job is the Clinic Coordinator, who minds the scheduling and gives a brief health-screening to the patients, among many other tasks. The Clinic Coordinators for this clinic are Terri MacNichol, and Margaret Johnson. Ms. Johnson also volunteers as the Manager of Fish for Teeth.
Housing for the Van’s driver will compliments of the Lopez Lodge, with some assistance from the Lopez FRC.
The Lopez ToothMobile visit will cost $1,600, which is being covered by Fish for Teeth www.fishforteeth.com . Fish for Teeth gets gets its funding directly from individual donations, and fundraising efforts like selling fish tacos. This time the group will be selling frozen Alaskan rockfish fillets for $10.00 per pound.
Fish for Teeth depends on these fundraising efforts, and additional donations from individuals, to provide funding for future ToothMobile visits. The next ToothMobile is scheduled for San Juan Island, on May 4-5.
All of the above must be done every time the ToothMobile comes to San Juan County. If you are interested in helping out with any of these areas of need, or if you simply want to make a financial contribution to help bring the ToothMobile back for another visit, please visit www.fishforteeth.com. Fish for Teeth, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, depends on community support in order to keep the ToothMobile coming back again and again.
Why “Fish for Teeth?”
Fish for Teeth was started in 2007 by Matt Marinkovich, a San Juan Island commercial fisherman, after a little girl showed him her mouth full of cavities. “She just came up to me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to see her cavities,” said Marinkovich. “She had a lot of cavities in there!”
After years of slow progress toward their mission, the Fish for Teeth Board of Directors, comprised of local fishermen and dentists, discovered the Toothmobile. “The combination of commercial fishermen working with dentists blows right through the red tape and gets us working on teeth right away,” says Marinkovich. “If there’s somebody that needs dental care, and doesn’t have the money to fix it, THAT is who we want to help.”
“Accommodations for the van’s driver are still needed for the May 4th and 5th clinic on San Juan,” says Marinkovich. Our hope is to find individuals or service groups who are willing to fund all or part of a van’s visit. If we can find regular donors to fund these vans, we can bring the van to the islands in an organized, scheduled, ongoing fashion.