Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Dr. Jeff Moore, left, examines the mouth of Cecilia Obando as Carmen Tucker, right, the dental assistant and his Spanish translator, takes notes on the computer. Dr. Moore, a 39-year-old Stone Mountain native and a 2006 graduate of The Dental College of Georgia, Augusta, became the new clinical director of dentistry at Mercy Care in Nov. 2018.


Run for Mercy 5K supports indigent health care program

By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 21, 2019

ATLANTA—Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is calling upon runners, joggers and walkers to support its third annual Run for Mercy 5K on Saturday, March 23.

The family-friendly event raises funds for the work of the hospital and for Mercy Care Atlanta, which delivers health care to the uninsured and underinsured, including the homeless, through a network of clinics and mobile units.

To benefit the hospital itself, proceeds go to Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital Fund of Excellence, which pays for growth, delivery of care and introduction of new services to better serve the community.

The run/walk will kick off at CBRE Asset Services, King and Queen Concourse, 4 Concourse Parkway, Atlanta. Registration fees vary for runners and walkers. All participants are encouraged to raise a minimum of $250 for the cause.

“Since our founding, Emory Saint Joseph’s has been focused on providing care to those less fortunate, which is the mission of our founders, the Sisters of Mercy,” said Heather Dexter, CEO of the hospital, in an event news release.

“We are so grateful for the many runners and walkers who support the Run for Mercy 5K each year, which, in turn, allows us to expand our services in the community to those needing it most.”

Funds raised by teams and individuals will help strengthen the mission of Mercy Care Atlanta, including its underfunded dental services.

Dr. Jeff Moore, director of Mercy Care’s dental services, joined the staff last November.

“It has just been an amazing experience,” said Moore about working with the clients in need.

Mercy Care provides routine and emergency dental exams, including cleanings, fillings and extractions. The program partners with an outside group to secure affordable dentures for patients.

The relationship between dental health and overall well-being is “so, so important,” said Moore. “Teaching and educating is a big part of our job.”

Mercy Care has six dentists, two hygienists and six dental assistants and treats both adults and children.

Diana Lewis, marketing manager at Mercy Care, said that 10,000 dental patients were served in 2017 with an estimated increase of 3,000 more patients last year.

“It’s such a needed service,” she said.

When children come for well visits to Mercy Care’s Chamblee clinic, they are automatically scheduled to see a dentist.

“I’m kind of firing up that service at our Chamblee location,” said Moore about the pediatric dentistry program.

He was a dentist in private practice for about four years before beginning work for another nonprofit dental program in 2010.

“I didn’t feel maybe as fulfilled as I expected,” he said about private practice. At Mercy Care, it’s meaningful work for Moore.

“Everyone’s got a story. There’s so much need,” he said.

Mercy Care dental assistant Carmen Tucker, left, inserts a bitewing into the mouth of patient Cecilia Obando. Tucker was taking X-rays of Obando’s teeth before the dentist came in to see her at the Chamblee adult dental suite. Photo By Michael Alexander

Mercy Care provides primary and behavioral health care on a sliding scale based on household income to those without any health insurance. Mercy Care also accepts Medicaid and Medicare.

“Eighty percent of our patients have no insurance,” said Lewis. She said that in 2017, Mercy Care provided $1.8 million in dental care to patients, but only secured $865,000 in funding from government sources and private donations.

The Run for Mercy 5K includes a “virtual saint” level of support for those who are unable to participate as runners or walkers but who wish to raise funds for the programs.

Run for Mercy is a Peachtree Road Race qualifier. To receive a timing chip for a qualifying time, one must register as a “running saint.” The fee is $40 through March 19 and $45 after that. The fee for a “walking/jogging saint” is $35 through March 19 and $40 after. Registered participants will receive an event T-shirt.

Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital is Atlanta’s longest-serving hospital, founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1880. Four sisters, with just 50 cents among them, opened the hospital—Atlanta’s first—after the Civil War.

What started in a small house on Baker Street downtown is now a 32-acre campus in north Atlanta. The hospital’s mission is “to provide compassionate care, especially to those in need.”

When the hospital moved in the late 1970s, a team of nurses, doctors, sisters and volunteers would return frequently to downtown Atlanta to continue providing care for the poor. Vans served as clinics to treat people on the street and in homeless shelters. Medical supplies were carried in tackle boxes.

In 1985, Saint Joseph’s Mercy Care Services was incorporated to continue the Sisters of Mercy mission to care for the indigent. A downtown Atlanta Mercy Care clinic opened in 2001 on Decatur Street to be closer to the poor patients. For years, the hospital served as a benefactor of this outreach. Saint Joseph’s Hospital became part of Emory Healthcare in 2012 but continues support of the separate Mercy Care entity with events such as the 5K. There are now six Mercy Care clinics and five more locations served by mobile units.