While many of our safety net clinics have long served Virginians with special health care needs, a new partnership between the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation and the Virginia Department of Health is funding adaptive equipment and specialized training to help providers meet the oral health care needs of persons with disabilities in their region.
The Centers for Inclusive Dentistry certification program launched in early 2023 with two participating clinics, Augusta Regional Dental Clinic located in Fishersville and Eastern Shore Rural Health System in Eastville.
Recently, teams of four from both clinics attended a three-day training at the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities. Through a combination of didactic and hands-on sessions, attendees learned how to better serve patients and families with special health care needs through effective communications, ergonomics, patient workflow adjustments and desensitization techniques, and how to make accommodations in treatment planning and their clinics’ physical spaces.
Having now returned from training, staff from both clinics are on a year-long learning collaborative journey to put what they were taught into practice. The clinics‘ goal is to earn their Centers for Inclusive Dentistry certifications to improve how they serve people with special health care needs and increase the number of patients with disabilities they are able to treat. As part of the certification program, the Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation paid for training and travel. Each clinic was provided $10K in funding to purchase equipment and another $5K stipend for participating in a learning collaborative that meets once a month to discuss new information, techniques and tools that have the potential to be used by other safety net clinics. Together, Augusta Regional Dental Clinic and Eastern Shore Rural Health System are developing implementation plans, providing staff training, and reassessing office workflows and treatment plans.
The Delta Dental of Virginia Foundation is currently recruiting for two additional safety net clinics that are interested in earning their Centers for Inclusive Dentistry certification in 2024. If you are interested, please contact Polly Raible.
“Thank you so much. What a great three days. We learned so much while we were there and can’t wait to start implementing what we learned.” Carsten Frey, DDS, Dentist, Academic Director, Eastville Community Health Center, Eastern Shore Rural Health System, Inc.
(l-r) Zanetta Ayres (Clinical Dental Assistant Educator), Dr. Scott Wolpin, Dr. Carsten Frey, Jennifer Ingram (Dental Clinical Manager [Eastville Community Health Center and Northampton County Schools)
“It was a fantastic trip. They have such a great team at NYU. We learned quite a few tips and tricks for treating the special needs population. I have already been [adjusting] our dental chairs this morning to see if I can flip the headrest around the way they showed me to support someone in a wheelchair. And it works!” Albert Schulz, DDS, Augusta Regional Dental Clinic
(l-r, Lisa Hickman, RDH; Misty Ladd, Office Manager; Rita Bilello, CEO Metro Community Centers; in chair, Stephanie Walker, CDA)
(l-r, Lisa Hickman, RDH; Stephanie Walker, CDA; Misty Ladd, office manager; Dr. Albert Schulz)