In just two weeks, dentists examined 422 patients, did 181 extractions, 279 fluoride varnishing, 197 amalgam fillings, 344 composite fillings, 732 sealants, and 6 pulpotomies. The value of services is calculated to be $248,059. This fall, Canvasback Missions, Inc. sent this medical team and an ophthalmic team to Ebeye, Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).
Hollis Wolcott, DDS, member of the Tappahannock church, served on the dental team, which consisted of five dentists, two dental hygienists, a dental assistant and a team coordinator. They examined patients at the Ebeye public hospital. Wolcott, who lives in Laneview (Va.) and runs a private practice in Tappahannock, felt this would be a good way to serve God. “The first reason for any mission trip is to serve people by relieving suffering, as our Lord did,” he said.
Ebeye is one of two population centers in the RMI. The Marshall Islands as a nation has one of the world’s highest rates of type 2 diabetes among other noncommunicable diseases. “Ebeye has very friendly people,” Wolcott said, “but the living conditions are appalling and poverty is rampant. The thing that struck me the most was the stark contrast between the beautiful children of Ebeye and the dental destruction that was apparent when they opened their mouths.”
The team did mostly fillings, sealants, and extractions. Wolcott said that one of his more difficult procedures was on a girl with cerebral palsy. While the dental team healed mouths, the ophthalmic team was restoring sight to the blind. The eye team examined 533 patients and did 115 cataract surgeries, among other procedures.
Canvasback Missions has been working in Micronesia for over 30 years with the dual goals of reversing the epidemic of diabetes in the Pacific and providing specialty medical services that are otherwise unavailable. Virginia is far from the RMI, but Wolcott would go again. “The mission experience was wonderful,” he said, “and should someone ever get a chance to serve on one, they should absolutely take the opportunity to go.”