Koerber among the volunteers for Kansas Mission of Mercy
Katelyn Koerber is a KMOM.
Koerber is a volunteer for the Kansas Mission of Mercy (KMOM), an annual charity event sponsored by the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation (KDCF).
Established in 2002, the KDCF mission is to provide funding and resources to improve oral health in the state of Kansas. The KDCF has donated more than $18 million in free dental care through KMOM.
Koerber, a native Concordian and 2008 graduate of Concordia High School, has been involved with KMOM for seven years. "I started out as a student volunteer while I was at the KU School of Pharmacy," she said. "I just love it. It's amazing to see everyone come together to help so many people."
KMOM is a two-day free dental clinic hosted once a year in different areas of the state. To date, 29,685 patients have been served thanks to the generous contributions of Kansas dentists, dental hygienists, pharmacists, and assistants.
KMOM provides cleanings, fillings, extractions, and medication to adults and children in need. Volunteers provide this care at no charge.
"This year the event was in Dodge City," said Koerber, a pharmacist at Funk Pharmacy for almost three years. "We didn't get as many dentist volunteers as we'd hoped, but we still were able to take care of over 800 patients. It's just really amazing to see all these professionals come together and change people's lives. For some of the patients we get, it's the first time they've had dental care."
During the two-day event in Dodge City, Koerber's day began at 4:45 a.m. and lasted until 8:45 p.m. "I basically ran two pharmacy stations. I have to have pre-meds ready for patients who have existing conditions, and then a post-pharmacy station for prescriptions written by the dentists, which are mostly pain medication and antibiotics. It kept me super busy."
The two-day event is the culmination of a months-long process Koerber goes through to prepare for the event.
"I probably start organizing things about 5 months in advance. Everything at KMOM is free, so I have to find the drug donations to make sure we have enough meds for the dentists to prescribe. And then it's constantly working the phone in my spare time, trying to find pharmacist volunteers. I get a lot of student pharmacists from the NCPA, a pharmacy club."
At the end of a KMOM event Koerber is exhausted, but finds tremendous satisfaction in the volunteer work she does.
"I really do love it. You have an impact on so many people's lives, and that's very rewarding."
The next KMOM event will be held in Wichita on February 19-20, 2021, at Hartman Arena. To register, to volunteer or to make a donation to KMOM, call 785-272-7469, or visit the website www.ksdentalfoundation.org. You can reach Koerber directly to volunteer at 785-243-4414.