This week marks the return of the Medical Teams International (MTI) Dental Van. This is such great news for so many neighbors as access to dental care remains one of the highest needs for folks living in poverty in the San Juan’s according to the Opportunity Council’s Prosperity Report. The dental program was started in 2012 as a community collaboration. OICF contracted with MTI, the Community Church provided space for reception and the van, local dentists and hygienists volunteered, the Orcas Island Lions Club provided support, and Rita Bailey and Barbara Ehrmantraut organized us all. Roses and the Food Coop provided lunches, and Rosario, Sea Star Lodging, and Bayside Cottages provided housing.

Up until the pandemic, the van visited four times each year, providing care for over 100 clients annually. This year, SJ County Health has secured grant funding and they are now coordinating the effort. OICF will continue to provide financial assistance and help secure housing. For this visit, the Kingfish Inn and Bayside Cottages are providing the lodging. I am grateful to everyone who contributes to this service. Dental care can be life-changing as everyone who has had dental pain knows!

I greatly appreciate the Orcas Center as well for hosting the vaccine clinics for the County, with the National Guard and OIHC helping to vaccinate hundreds locally. Dimitri Stankevich has gone out of his way to be welcoming and even arranged to have live music to enjoy while waiting. It has made the whole experience feel celebratory. If you are not yet a member of the Ocas Center, this would be a good time to sign up and send them some love.

While the County is having great success getting folks vaccinated, there has also been a rash of Covid on San Juan Island–10 cases last week and nine more this week.  It is a good reminder that we still need to be cautious. Keep up the good efforts!

Stay well,