Community Clinic Nominated for Henry Schein Cares Medal

Richard Gawel


This February, celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month with news stories, interviews, and blogs all about safeguarding pediatric oral health. #NCDHM 

Henry Schein has announced the finalists for its second annual Henry Schein Cares Medal, an award given to nonprofit organizations that demonstrate excellence in expanding care for the underserved. An independent panel of judges selected 3 finalists among applicants from each of 3 fields: oral health, animal health, and medicine.

The oral health medalists include Community Dental Care (CDC) of Minnesota; Gaston Family Health Services of Gastonia, NC; and Interfaith Dental Clinic of Nashville, Tenn. Each of these medalists will receive a case award, including $15,000 for gold, $10,000 for silver, or $5,000 for bronze, as well as $10,000 worth of products from Henry Schein Cares. 

Crystal Yang, development coordinator at CDC, recently discussed the organization’s work and how the award will impact its efforts with Dentistry Today.  

Q: What kind of care does CDC provide?

A: CDC is a nonprofit organization and Minnesota Health Care Programs community clinic established to provide quality dental services for low-income and minority patients. CDC served as a for-profit clinic for 22 years before incorporating as a nonprofit in 2004. Today, CDC is one of the largest safety-net clinics in Minnesota and is recognized by the Minnesota Department of Health as one of 6 successful models statewide that provide dental services for underserved communities.

CDC currently has 4 clinics—3 in the Twin Cities and one in Rochester, Minn—with a total of 58 dental operatories. We will open a fifth, 18-operatory clinic in Rochester in the fall of 2017. Our mission is to provide culturally sensitive community oral healthcare, preventive education, and professional training and to advocate for access to all. Our vision is that all people will have access to high-quality, affordable dental care to improve their overall health in a convenient, caring, and respectful environment.

All 4 clinics provide comprehensive dental services, including preventive, restorative, endodontic, oral surgery, pediatric, prosthodontic, and emergency procedures. In 2016, we provided 134,274 patient encounters for 46,868 unduplicated patients. Of these, 91% of patients were enrolled in public programs or uninsured with income at or below 275% of the federal poverty level, 64% were a racial/ethnic minority, and 47% were children. To serve more patients and provide care outside of school and work hours, our clinics offer early morning and evening appointments. All clinics dedicate time daily for emergencies, and in 2016 we treated 14,140 emergency patients.

CDC also provides clinic training for dental professionals (dental hygienists, assistants, and advanced dental therapists), nursing students, and community health workers from 12 universities and colleges in Minnesota. In 2016, we provided clinical training for 308 students.

Q: Does CDC have any programs specifically for children?

CDC also has 2 community programs that improve access to oral health care for low-income families and children. Our Program to Improve Community Oral Health (PICOH) provides in-clinic oral health prevention and education for children and pregnant women, outreach to the general community, and school-based preventive oral health programming, including screenings, dental sealants, prophylaxis, and fluoride varnish for low-income children. This is the key program we described in our Henry Schein Cares Medal application.

This past year, PICOH began a pilot project to test strategies for educating and empowering parents of babies and toddlers, up to the age of 2 years, before their children have experienced dental caries and developed poor oral hygiene habits. Since PICOH’s inception in 2006, it has provided preventive care, risk assessment, education, and oral health kits to more than 83,000 children, pregnant women, and parents.

Q: How does it feel to be recognized for this work?

A: We are incredibly honored to be a finalist, and the entire PICOH team was thrilled to hear we were chosen! Our application for the Henry Schein Cares Medal highlighted PICOH as the program we consider our most cutting edge and best practice in its field. PICOH is grounded in evidence-based strategies that build knowledge and skills to last a lifetime. The model is designed around the belief that children (and their parents) need consistent reinforcement of good oral health practices during their early years to positively affect their health throughout their lives.

The staff promotes this long-term impact through strategies such as one-one-on motivational interview-style instruction and anticipatory guidance, proven-to-impact behaviors that reduce cavities. In addition to teaching oral hygiene, PICOH builds oral health literacy and educates families on the proven links between poor oral health, poor nutrition, and chronic diseases. Our results show that the program is making a sustainable impact in childhood caries (cavities) reduction.

PICOH has also received national recognition by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and ICF International as one of 12 promising models nationwide that increase access to oral health access for children. The Henry Schein Cares Medal award will add tremendously to the pride and commitment of our PICOH staff, and our entire CDC staff will also share in this sense of accomplishment. We also anticipate that as we advertise this award to our patients and PICOH participants, it will encourage them even more to reach their oral health goals and be a part of this significant success story!

Q: How do you plan on using the award?

A: The cash award and donated products from the Henry Schein Cares Medal will be used by PICOH to expand access to oral health prevention and education services for underserved children in the Twin Cities and Rochester. In 2016, 94% of the children served by PICOH were on public programs, and 85% were minority. These are children from low-income families with limited access to affordable dental care. Also, a majority of the families we serve in PICOH are recent immigrants or refugees who do not understand the importance of good oral health and preventive services. As evidence continues to show a systemic connection between oral health and overall health, it is important to increase access for these most vulnerable populations.

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