In 2004, in St. Leo’s Church, located in the inner city of Detroit, a group of Michigan Area, Order of Malta members were preparing and serving a meal in the basement Soup Kitchen of that Church. These Malta members were approached by Bishop Gumbleton, the pastor of St. Leo’s, and were asked if the Order could somehow provide medical care for several very sick people who lived in the area. The ensuing discussions, planning and agreement gave birth to the Malta free Medical Clinic, a project of the Michigan Area of the Order, located in the basement of St. Leo’s Church. The Area members financed the Medical Clinic, and several volunteer members of the Order managed and manned the Clinic.
It was not very long before the doctors manning the Clinic brought to light the severe condition of a number of patients who could not be helped because of the severe condition of their gums and teeth. As a result of this dilemma, the Michigan Area of the Order decided to establish a free Dental Clinic, with Bishop Gumbleton’s agreement and blessing, in St. Leo’s Church basement. We soon found out that this would be an expensive venture. Dental chairs, X-ray machines and developers, air compressor, sputum receptacles, dental tools and drills, plumbing and electrical materials and fixtures, new rooms, storage area, cabinetry, etc. had to be obtained and installed before we could treat one dental patient. Fortunately, through God’s Grace, we obtained these requirements through donations of used equipment and cash contributions.
In 2007, after we started to see dental patients, we realized that free dentures and partials, oral surgeries, and dental supplies were very expensive. We then knew that it would be necessary to seek funding from sources additional to the Michigan Area members of the Order and the American Association. We then sought and received monies from local businesses and foundations (Blue Cross Blue Shield Safety Net Grant, State of Michigan Grant) in the form of donations and grants.
In 2015, with a grant from The Metro Heath Foundation and Patterson Dental Company , the clinic was able to place digital x-rays in all of the clinic rooms. In 2018, Henry Schein donated Dentrix (an electronic Health Records system). The dental clinic hired a dental director in 2018 to manage the increase in patients and volunteers. The clinics have had more than 11,000 patients visits since 2004. We look forward to helping more people in need with the help of volunteers.
In 1048 A.D., a group of hospitaller monks of the Order of St.John were asked to manage and staff a hospital in Jerusalem, caring for pilgrims and travelers of various faith and race. That group of monks acted accordingly, and thereby founded the organization presently known as the Order of Malta, a lay order of the Catholic Church which ministers to the sick and the poor of many nations.