Friday, November 25, 2011

Local Clinic: Toronto - November 19, 2011

Submitted by Greg DeClara, an HMO Volunteer

Saturday November, 19 was a beautiful fall day. Many people in the Toronto area took advantage of the abnormally warm weather before the harsh reality of a Canadian winter beings to set in. But, inside the Church on the Queensway, volunteers were sacrificing their day off to give back to the community.

Health Mission Outreach (HMO) held a free medical and dental clinic last Saturday for community members at the west-end church. A team of young, energetic volunteers and dedicated medical professionals treated hundreds of people who don’t normally have the luxury of seeing a doctor. Members of the Church on the Queensway and volunteers with the outreach program were beyond accommodating and created a welcoming environment for everyone who walked through the doors. They began in the early hours of the morning setting up dental chairs, electrical wires and even an x-ray machine. I also came across a group of dental hygienist students who were there looking to help in any way possible. The entire day was really a perfect example of people helping people.

As my first local mission, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Living in Canada’s largest and richest city, I don’t imagine healthcare to be a major issue. We normally balk at the countless horror stories we hear from our neighbours to the south and take pride in the services that are available to us. But, in reality, something as simple as dental cleaning can be out of reach for some Canadians. According to HMO Chair, Valerie Campbell, thirty per cent of us don’t see a dentist and nine per cent of us don’t have our natural teeth.

Walking through the church and into the gym, I expected the majority of patients to be new immigrants. However, as I began talking to them, I realized that many had been born in Canada or had moved to the country more than ten years ago. People can develop serious health issues like heart disease without proper oral hygiene. It became clear how critical the growth and development of these programs is for the well being of many people.

Overall, the day was an eye-opening experience for me. I got a first-hand look at the amount of work and effort put into the program. I’m proud that I was able to be a part of such a great event and look forward to future projects as HMO continues to serve the people most in need.

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