PITTSBURGH — Free dental, vision, and hearing care for kids, adults, and seniors are available for two days at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Event founders said that over two days, they will care for thousands of patients — no insurance or appointment is needed.
Channel 11 News’ Talia Kirkland spoke with a patient who said the Mission of Mercy saved his life.
“One day I couldn’t even lift my arm, so I went to the hospital,” said Gerald Freeman.
Freeman underwent major surgery two years ago due to a tooth infection — at the time, he had to get a portion of his clavicle and two ribs removed.
“They said I had an infection here, and that’s where the pain was coming from,” said Freeman.
Following that surgery, he was instructed to have his infected teeth removed, but when he found out the cost — $1200 — he opted to wait and save.
“I went to the dental school, but they were going to charge me too much, and I couldn’t afford it,” said Freeman.
Currently, 77 million adults nationwide do not have dental insurance, said Dr. Daniel Pituch, a co-founder of the Mission of Mercy, said that is why he and his colleagues Drs. Richard Celko and Keith Young began the mission back in 2017.
“Once a year, patients who have limited resources and have limited access to dental care are welcome to come here, no questions asked,” said Pituch, the chief of oral and maxillofacial surgery at UPMC Mercy and UPMC Shadyside.
Organizers anticipate more than 1200 patients will attend, as many were unable to access care for the past two years.
“The pandemic has taken a toll on oral access and care,” said Celko, a dentist with UPMC.
Freeman had multiple extractions today — he says he wishes he had not waited so long — but he is grateful.
“I feel great, great and I am going to pray for these doctors, thank you,” said Freeman.
The two-day event will run today and tomorrow from 6 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
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