Thousands arrive for Mission of Mercy free dental clinic - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Thousands arrive for Mission of Mercy free dental clinic in Hartford

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Dentists and hygienists provided dental care to thousands of patients Friday. (WFSB photo) Dentists and hygienists provided dental care to thousands of patients Friday. (WFSB photo)
Volunteers worked to set up 130 stations Thursday. (WFSB photo) Volunteers worked to set up 130 stations Thursday. (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Thousands of people lined up to receive free dental care in Hartford at the Connecticut Mission of Mercy.

Eyewitness News is proud to partner in the two-day event, which started Friday.

Patients began lining up for the event Thursday around 7:20 a.m.

Volunteers began the monumental task of setting up at the XL Center on Thursday morning.

It was a race against time as crews unloaded chairs, tables, sinks and equipment to transform the XL Center, which is at 1 Civic Center Plaza, by 6 a.m. Friday.

"This is going to be the biggest clinic ever done on the east coast, so we're pretty excited about it," said Dr. Bruce Tandy with Connecticut Mission of Mercy.

Tandy said the clinic has grown annually in the past seven years and this year, they are expected to treat 2,400 patients.

In previous years, the event was held in Tolland, New Haven, Middletown, Waterbury, Danbury and Bridgeport.

Ethel and Evelyn Jones, who are twins from Hartford, arrived at 7:20 a.m. Thursday, nearly 24 hours beforehand, to make sure they got a spot.

"I'm so early because I need my mouth worked on," said Ethel Jones. "I don't have insurance, so this is the way I need to go."

"Anything they can do for me, anything they can do, I need," said Evelyn Jones.

More than 130 spaces were assembled and ready to go to take in thousands of patients. To accomplish this task, it required thousands of volunteers.

"Right now we're setting up dental stands," said Emily Vuong with Americorps. "I think it's the access to water."

Vuong was one of more than 1,800 volunteers who were at the XL Center to set up, tear down, escort patients and help dentists and hygienists. Susan Tandy's job was to keep them all going.

"I start feeding people on Wednesday, all the way through Sunday breakdown," Susan Tandy said.

Officials said patients would be treated on a first-come, first-serve basis. The clinic does fill up every year, usually by late morning or early afternoon.

Dentists said they know it's just a small fraction of the help many people really need, but it's a start.

"Everybody here loves taking care of these patients," Bruce Tandy said. "We do this every day in our offices, but this is special."

For more information about the CTMOM, check out the website here.

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