As Reelfoot Rural Ministries prepares to reopen in early June, the doctors in its dental clinic knew they needed to take additional precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their staff, patients and themselves against the threat of COVID-19. After hearing the news about the University of Tennessee at Martin creating medical face shields during the shortage of personal protective equipment, UT Martin alumnus and dentist at the clinic, Dr. Greg Moore, reached out to the university to see if they could help.
“The ability of UTM and many other entities to produce needed PPE has enabled not only front-line health-care providers to continue but has also enabled other health-care providers like dentists to return to work and practice in the face of this virus,” said Moore.
UT Martin provided the 3D technology and labor to produce the face shields for Reelfoot Rural Ministries for the cost of the materials. According to Amy Belew, UT Martin chief information officer, the university “wants to help out the community as much as we can,” and the services donated to Reelfoot Rural Ministries, “(provided) us with a great opportunity to do that.”
“The face shields that UTM fabricated for us are one of the additional layers of protection that is advised along with much thicker masks,” Moore explained. “The oral cavity provides one primary vector of transmission of this virus through coughing and aerosol of water/saliva generated in having dental procedures. Therefore, the face shields from UTM help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In essence, they may save a life.”
Reelfoot Rural Ministries is a religious nonprofit organization that serves those in need the counties of Dyer, Lake, Obion and Fulton, as well as senior citizens from any county in Tennessee. From low-cost dental and vision care for the uninsured and underinsured provided by volunteer doctors, to grocery distribution and home repairs, Reelfoot Rural Ministries seeks to help those who qualify for financial need in one of the most poverty-ridden areas in Tennessee.
“Reelfoot Rural Ministries mission has been always been based upon Christian love. As an outreach of the Memphis Conference of the United Methodist Church for over 50 years, this ministry has been a neighbor to the community that it serves. So many churches, individuals and businesses have offered help to (Reelfoot Rural Ministries) through the years. Reelfoot Rural Ministries has received that benevolence and thus has offered assistance in many ministries to people across Northwest Tennessee and Southwest Kentucky for over half a century,” Moore said.
The Reelfoot Rural Ministries dental clinic will reopen June 2 in order to continue serving the dental needs of Northwest Tennessee residents.
“I know that we’re looking forward to going back and continuing our work there at the clinic, but we have to make sure that we’re protected as much as we can in order to do that,” Moore said.
The West Tennessee Healthcare Volunteer Hospital also purchased face masks for use in direct patient care. Two recent UT Martin graduates, Garrett Hay and Grayson Lambert, delivered the shields to the hospital May 7.
For more information about the medical face shields, contact Belew at 731-881-7901. For more information about Reelfoot Rural Ministries, contact Rev. Robert Craig, executive director, at 731-538-9970.