Its not because she isnt happy.
The 45-year-old woman has severe dental problems, but being unemployed and without medical or dental insurance, her best option is not to show her teeth.
In the meantime, she endures agonizing pain and depression.
My grandkids, theyll be like, Grandma, what happened to your teeth? Whats wrong with your mouth? It really is embarrassing. For two years, I wouldnt even come out of the house, Morrow said, wiping away tears.
My teeth have been messed up for 15 years. People treat you like youre not human.
Morrow will be among the hundreds of people at State Fair Park later this month seeking free medical treatment from Remote Area Medical Oklahoma. The Aug. 25-26 event provides limited dental and vision care, along with some medical and womens health care services. Around 2,000 people are expected.
No appointments are necessary, and individuals only need to bring and a list of medications they take, said Tres Savage, RAM Oklahoma president.
The Tennessee-based RAM delivers medical care to remote areas worldwide, including many rural and underserved areas in North America.
For the Oklahoma City event only RAM Oklahomas second such clinic, the first being in 2010 the nonprofit still needs donations of money and bottled water. Also needed are additional volunteers in the dental and vision fields: dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, ophthalmologists, opticians and optometrists.
RAM Oklahomas total budget is about $22,000.
The goal, Savage said, is not only to provide free care to those in immediate need, but also to connect patients with follow-up and continuing-care resources.
Around 90 percent of those who showed up at the 2010 event wanted dental care, he said.
A lot of people show up because theyre in pain, Savage said. Thats sort of the way things work in this country, from a patient perspective.
Terrisa Singleton, foundation manager for Delta Dental of Oklahoma one of the events major sponsors said while many Oklahoma children are covered by SoonerCare, the states Medicaid program, adults without dental insurance dont have such a safety net.
Nearly half of all adult Oklahomans dont have dental insurance, she said. Moreover, the state ranks near the bottom for patients visiting a dentist, regardless of their insurance situation.
A lot of people put that priority low in the list as they try to meet other needs in this economy, Singleton
said. Lack of education [about dental hygiene and checkups] is a big
part of it, but I think probably the No. 1 reason people are in pain and
dont take care of it in this state is an economic issue.
Amos, who heads the RAM Oklahoma dental committee, said the group needs
around 50 dental volunteers for each day of the clinic. The main
procedures that dentists will be able to perform are extractions, basic
cleaning and restorative work, such as fillings.
We need as many dentists as we can, he said. Its hard to volunteer from 6 in the morning to 6 at night.
A desperate need
Dandridge, manager for RAMs Reach Across America program, is in charge
of the organizations large tractor-trailer filled with equipment to
make eyeglasses. He has witnessed firsthand the power of RAMs vision
care, from those who have suffered major eye damage in natural disasters
to a woman about to lose her job because her glasses had broken and she
couldnt see without them.
why its so important vision care is out there: You change a persons
life in the matter of a few hours, Dandridge said. You open up a whole
new world for them because theyve never been able to see or, if they
saw at one time, a world theyve missed since then.
Larry Kincheloe, an OB-GYN at Integris Family Care Central, heads up
the events medical arm. He said his team will offer coupons for
mammograms, Pap testing, sexually transmitted disease testing, pregnancy testing and some
last event saw around 200 women treated, Kincheloe said, most of whom
were mothers bringing their daughters in for their first checkup.
of the people we saw last year had jobs, but didnt have insurance, he
said. If youre a waitress at your local diner, you dont have an
extra $1,200 a month for insurance for a family of four.
Blast of reality
Savage said its
likely people may line up the night before the clinic in hopes of being
among the first patients. He said its also likely that some people may
have to be turned away because of overwhelming demand.
Many people, he said,
often dont see how much of a desperate need exists for such services.
He said clinics such as RAMs offer a big blast of reality for
students and medical professionals who perhaps havent been exposed to
an open system of care.
Limited access is a reality for Morrow.
a few weeks ago, when she saw a dentist at a community health center,
her only interaction with medical professionals about her teeth was the
occasional emergency room visit, when she could no longer stand the
Morrow said she
hopes to have her teeth fixed through a combination of both the RAM
event and follow-up visits at the community health center.
that, her goal is simple. All I want to do is get my teeth fixed and
take a picture with my grandbabies and smile look in the mirror just
once in my life and be able to smile, she said.
When I get my teeth fixed, Im going to smile and wave like Im the first lady. Im going to go to sleep smiling.
For more information or to volunteer, visit ramok.org.