We can do better with health care

This weekend Glenwood High School will be the site of a free dental clinic organized by the Colorado Mission of Mercy. This statewide organization puts on one two-day dental clinic each year, moving from town to town to serve around 1,300 patients at each annual event. This will be their first visit to the Western Slope in 12 years of operation.

This is a wonderful undertaking by over 1,000 generous volunteers, including 200 dentists, serving a huge unmet need. I admire their willingness to serve the less fortunate.

At the same time, it disturbs me that the wealthiest country on earth depends on a patchwork of altruistic volunteers and complex logistics to provide sporadic health care. Remote Area Medical, based outside Knoxville, Tennessee, has provided free medical and dental care to hundreds of thousands of people through their mobile medical clinics. Some of their clinics are held at county fairgrounds, where desperate patients travel hundreds of miles to line up at midnight with no guarantee of getting an entry ticket and a chance to be evaluated in a livestock pen.

Is this the best we can do? Charitable doctors and dentists have long enjoyed taking short expeditions to exotic third-world countries to share their first-world skills. So now they’re doing this in a Colorado tourism capital and Tennessee animal stalls?

If you want to help people, how about providing comprehensive and continuous medical and dental care to everyone, in established private clinics, and during reasonable hours? We can do this with Medicare for All, spend less in the process, and our volunteers can spread American values in Guatemala. It’s not a government takeover. It’s America doing what we should have done decades ago. These free clinics are a pathetic indictment of our failed health care system. We can do better. Get all your questions answered at

Dr. George Bohmfalk