Catholic Charities D.C., the social ministry outreach of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., provided free dental and medical screenings to community members at its Susan Denison Mona Center for Health and Wellness, located in Temple Hills, Md., on Feb. 6.

The center provided medical and dental screenings, as well as a number of other opportunities for patients to receive social and legal assistance.

FREE DENTAL SCREENING COURTESY OF ALEXANDRA SCHAUFFLER
The Susan Denison Mona Center for Health and Wellness provided medical and dental screenings, as well as a number of other opportunities for patients to receive social and legal assistance.

The screenings were intended to provide health services to individuals in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia community who may not otherwise be able to afford or access adequate health care, according to Joseph Dempsey, director of stewardship for Catholic Charities.

“The biggest goal for us is to serve as many of the materially poor as we can in that region,” Dempsey said in an interview with The Hoya. “We will care for everybody. It doesn’t matter what religion or race. Anybody that comes in that needs our help, we will try to help.”

Following the dental screening, patients were given the opportunity to book a follow-up appointment at the clinic to continue attending to their oral health care. According to Dempsey, 31 of the 32 recipients of the free oral screening booked a future appointment.

Attendees of the screenings were offered opportunities to speak with volunteers from the Catholic Charities’ legal network, which provides legal information to clients and refers them to attorneys for pro bono assistance in civil law matters, such as landlord-tenant disputes.

Catholic Charities also offered legal services to assist clients with the immigration process. A representative from the Catholic Charities’ Financial Stability Network, which primarily helps clients with their taxes, was also present.

Opened in October 2017 by Catholic Charities in conjunction with the Maryland Center for Health Equity and Doctors Community Hospital, the Mona Center is home to a dental clinic, a primary care clinic and pro bono legal and immigration services.

Catholic Charities hosted its first dental screenings at the Mona Center in the second week of January. Because of its success, the organization planned the second set of screenings, which expanded to include medical, legal and financial service opportunities.

One aspect the organization improved on from the first screening was reaching out to a larger audience through broader communication strategies, Dempsey said.

“When we did it for the first time in January, we did it on a more compressed time frame,” Dempsey said. “We got the word out as best as we can. I think we did a better job getting the message out on the website and via social media — the word got out in a more timely manner and to more people.”

According to Dempsey, it is unlikely the organization will host another round of screenings soon. However, Catholic Charities will use a mobile response vehicle to provide additional dental screenings and services in the region, according to Senior Manager of Media Relations for Catholic Charities Alexandra Schauffler.

“They provide their mobile disaster vehicle once a month for various uses — it can be used to provide meals or to carry necessities to areas that need relief,” Schauffler said. “We’re actually using it for another dental screening in southern Maryland.”

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