Dr. Carol Ford Volunteered At HopeFest


Dental ClinicSometimes it takes a huge effort to solve a huge problem. Surveys indicate that 21 percent of adults and 31 percent of children in Arizona have never had a dental checkup, and that 44 percent of all Arizonans lack dental insurance.To help address this problem, the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation recently partnered with CityServeAZ to provide dental clinic services during the fifth annual HopeFest, held April 16 at Chase Field.

More than 25,000 people attended HopeFest, which also provided medical care, vision screenings, food, housing, haircuts, clothing, personal care products, and employment services, in addition to dental treatment. Dr. Carol Ford was a dental volunteer at HopeFest this year, and recently shared what it was like to work in the event’s dental clinic.

A Day At the HopeFest Dental Clinic

Dr. Ford noted that she had begun donating to Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation initiatives, then took the plunge and volunteered at the organization’s Mission of Mercy dental clinic event in December and, in her words, “fell in love.”

“My role is as volunteer leader for patient routing.  I train and offer support to the volunteers in routing and also route the patients,” she explained. “The routers see the patients after they have been medically and dentally triaged and had X-rays taken. We read the X-rays and the notes from the triage docs and recommend treatment to the patients and let them decide the priority of treatment. Then we send them to the appropriate area for that treatment.”

Dr. Ford offered one patient’s story as an example of who comes to HopeFest. Ali is a 20-year-old man with muscular dystrophy. He uses a wheelchair and his family must brush his teeth because he is unable to do it himself. Ali came to HopeFest with his family and Dr. Ford was able to ensure that he received the appropriate level of care, including a dental cleaning suited to his needs, in a timely manner.

Dr. Ford said that she planned to continue offering her services at HopeFest and similar events because the process was both meaningful and rewarding.

“Dentistry is hard work and the idea of working at a dental clinic on my days off wasn’t very appealing, but the (HopeFest) program is exceptionally well run and organized, and it is getting better and better every year,” she said. “I normally pull 12-hour shifts for both days. I get home and I’m exhausted, but SO energized at the same time, because I feel I have really made a difference.”

Dr. Ford concluded by saying that those interested in helping their underserved neighbors connect with services providing long-term solutions should consider becoming involved with the program.

 “The program is growing, and every year we serve more people with better ease and flow,” she said. “We continue to need more volunteers and financial support so we can see more and more people.”

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