Rotary learns About Arkansas’ “Mission Of Mercy”
by Jeanne Castro
When Hassan Bashiri, DMD MS moved to FFB in 1989, it was one of the least traumatic transitions of his life. He recalls being a student from Iran in June, 1975 when he traveled to the US on a scholarship. He landed in Chicago and was only allowed into the US after a scare that the herbs he was planning to plant were illegal. He then had 8 weeks to learn English before he began his schooling, Dr. Bashiri eventually moved in Arkansas in 1979 and after completing his dental studies, he has been at UAMS in practice and as a faculty member. Dr. Bashiri specializes in doing dental reconstructions for patients with bone and soft tissue head/neck cancers that have required extensive surgical extirpations. In addition to caring for FFB residents as a private practice, in his spare time, Dr. Bashiri offers his services to people who can’t afford dental care.
Dr. Bashiri’s August 6th presentation to FFB Rotary concerned his ongoing involvement with Arkansas Mission of Mercy or ArMOM, which has been “touching lives” since 2007. ARMOM is an annual two-day free dental clinic for underserved Arkansans, with all services provided free of charge. Members of the Arkansas State Dental Association, assisted by volunteers provide dental care for relief of pain to these Arkansans, many of whom are from working families who do not have access or cannot afford dental insurance.
With the help of a number of sponsors, such as McDonalds, Sysco, Delta Dental and Wal-Mart, ArMOM has been able to provide two day free dental clinics at a different city in Arkansas every year. This year, the clinic was held in Springdale with almost 2000 patients receiving $1,000,000 in dental care, from cleaning and fillings to extractions and restorations. As Dr. Bashiri explained, to handle the number of patients, a large venue is necessary to set up all the dental chairs and associated equipment, requiring significant organization and teamwork. In addition to dentists, MD’s, nurses and pharmacists, there are lab and dental technicians, hygienists and prosthetic specialists treating the patients. Without the phalanx of volunteers, many of whom return yearly, all the patients, who begin lining up before 6 a.m., could not be treated.
With the aid of a video of the 2011 ArMOM Clinic in Little Rock, Dr. Bashiri was able to show Rotarians the set up and two days of concentrated dental care necessary to treat these needy people. After viewing the delighted smiles by Arkansans of all ages following their dental care, we Rotarians and all Arkansans can take pleasure in supporting this generous goodwill service which has benefited over 10,000 patients since 2007. For further information, see www.arkansasmissionofmercy.org or call 1-800-501-2732.