- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Leave aside the politics of health care and the impact of last week’s Supreme Court decision largely upholding the Affordable Care Act.
Here is the fact. At this moment the delivery of health care in the United States is uneven. For many millions covered by private insurance, there might be bureaucratic hoops for patients and their health care providers to jump through, but top-notch care is available.
Millions more senior citizens are covered by Medicare, to their great comfort, and Medicaid offers a safety net to the indigent.
But that still leaves millions more, unemployed or working in jobs that leave them uninsured or underinsured. That is the current reality.
In Charles County, there are people stepping in to help fill that gap.
Health Partners began in 1992, and without federal, state or local funding offers low-cost health care and prescription medications to uninsured and underinsured adults. It has been supported by medical professionals and the community all during that time. It is invaluable work that benefits thousands.
Last month, there was another remarkable undertaking. A 55-chair dental clinic was set up in the gym at a high school in St. Mary’s County, and more than 700 Southern Maryland adults had teeth filled, cleaned and extracted. Minor oral surgery, basic denture and prosthetic work and root canals were performed.
All this was done by a legion of more than 400 volunteers — including dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, oral surgeons, medical doctors, pharmacists, X-ray technicians, nurses and others offering their support to make it all happen.
It was Southern Maryland Mission of Mercy. Organizers had been planning the two-day dental clinic — and raising $60,000 to carry it off — for months.
The Mission of Mercy campaign was launched in Virginia in 2000. It has spread to other states. Maryland’s first Mission of Mercy clinics were held in October 2010 and October 2011 in Western Maryland.
Dr. Garner Morgan and Dr. Martin Barley coordinated the Southern Maryland clinic with the help of many other people. Chopticon High School was chosen as a central site to serve people from Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties.
“There’s just a huge need in the area for these kinds of services, with something like 52,000-plus uninsured people in the tri-county area,” Morgan said last fall shortly after returning from his second trip to the Western Maryland clinic as a volunteer. At that time he, Barley and others were organizing the Southern Maryland clinic that was held June 23.
The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday will not end the health care debate. Calls to repeal the law dubbed Obamacare will continue through the summer and the fall elections. Perhaps in the end the law will stand and bring substantial improvement, or perhaps new solutions will be found and prove effective.
But know this. On June 22 and 23 more than 700 Southern Marylanders had badly needed dental work done because those who could offer it, and those who could help coordinate it, came together.
And for two decades thousands of people have been offered health care that insurance wouldn’t cover because of Health Partners.
These, in our community, are already success stories.