SMOKEY POINT — Arlington dentist Dr. David Abdo partnered with Eagle Wings disAbility Ministries of Marysville on Wednesday, March 20, to help several people with developmental disabilities smile a little easier.
Abdo, dental hygienist Julie Baylor and dental assistant Brea Runyon all donated their time for a free dental clinic in Smokey Point, through the Medical Teams International Mobile Dental Van. While Abdo prefers to let his work speak for itself, Eagle Wings Executive Director Kinder Smoots was effusive in praising Abdo and his staff for the value of their work.
“Eagle Wings has always had an interest in building relationships between people with developmental disabilities and their community,” Smoots said. “What better way to serve their practical needs than by caring for those who live right here?”
According to Smoots, Eagle Wings’ interest in the dental needs of the developmentally disabled began a year ago, from listening to caregivers share how difficult it is to find a dentist who is willing to help, as well as the difficulties of getting their clients down to the University of Washington DECOD Clinic.
“It not only takes getting them ready, but loading them onto DART, transferring onto ACCESS at the county line, and basically winds up being an all-day event, when you have 20-minute windows for each transport,” Smoots said. “The DECOD Clinic takes medical coupons, but is really designed for patients who need sedation or to be swaddled onto a board for their own safety. The people we serve aren’t like that at all. They are happy and grateful patients, who are excited to climb onto the state-of-the-art RV generously donated by our partners in Medical Teams International.”
Smoots explained that such free dental clinics are typically conducted right in the driveways of the group homes in need of care, with dental teams arriving in the morning and caregivers sending their clients out one-by-one for treatment. The Mobile Dental Van includes two dental operatories, fully stocked with supplies, while Eagle Wings is responsible not only for recruiting the dental teams, but also finding patients who need free urgent dental care.
“Once those pieces are in place, we find a location for the RV, organize the schedule, book the clients and facilitate the day,” Smoots said. “It’s organized quite well, as a regular practice would be, and is 100 percent free for the people we serve.”
The Eagle Wings dental program has been made possible through the generosity of the Greater Everett Community Foundation and the Marysville Chapter of Soroptimist International.
“We believe caregivers go to great lengths to care for their clients,” Smoots said. “They always encourage good oral health habits, but many times, due to certain medications, their clients’ oral health is at greater risk than the average person. So, why not serve as a bridge between this vulnerable population and the professionals in our community, to make life a little simpler, especially for the caregivers who already have so much to do? The volunteers we work with agree that the blessings run both directions, and as you can see from their smiles, their services are greatly appreciated.”
Dental professionals who are interested in volunteering may call Eagle Wings at 360-658-6093 or email Kinder Smoots at firstname.lastname@example.org. Continuing education credits are available for dental volunteers. For more information, log onto www.eaglewingsministries.org.