Veterans Oral Health Initiative (VOHI)
Dental care is not a guaranteed benefit for veterans of the United States military. Only veterans with a service-connected dental disability (i.e. combat injury to the head/neck) or those who are considered 100% disabled as a result of service are eligible for full dental care with the Veterans’ Administration (VA). This leaves nearly 85% of the veterans ineligible for dental care through the VA, and their access to oral health services are subject to their ability to pay out-of-pocket or purchase private or employer-sponsored dental insurance.
Many groups with an interest in veterans’ health have attempted to address the lack of access to dental care by conducting short-term projects; these are usually one-day, annual events offering free consultation, cleanings, or addressing urgent needs only. In order to achieve sustained improvements in veterans’ oral health outcomes or access to care, a different approach must be taken.
Beginning March 2, 2019
NYU Dentistry has partnered with the New York State Dental Foundation to fund the initial costs of delivering care to this vulnerable population. In addition, a handful of concerned alumni have donated additional funding to help cover the treatment plans created for the initial cohort of patients; however, in order to reach a larger number and continue the program in perpetuity, development efforts will continue to focus on covering the high laboratory and specialty costs.
The best bet for sustaining improved access to care is to place each veteran into a permanent dental home in his/her community. In order to do so, dentists in and around New York City are asked to participate by welcoming a veteran into his/her dental practice and offering routine maintenance and ongoing dental care regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
For more information on this event or become a sponsor, please click here.
The Cleft-Craniofacial Center at Albany Medical Center has a new dental chair to assist its mission to serve children born with facial deformities from across a 25-county region. This exciting addition came about as part of the New York State Dental Foundation’s Equipment Donation Program, through which the Foundation leverages its partnerships with corporate entities such as Henry Schein, Inc., Air Techniques, Midmark and Belmont, and, occasionally, private donors, to provide equipment to help community programs increase their capacity to provide dental treatment to vulnerable populations.
“Everybody involved is incredibly indebted to the dedication of the members of our Charitable Awards Committee, which is chaired by Dr. P. Deborah Weisfuse,” states NYSDF Executive Director Laura Stedman. “Dr. Weisfuse personally oversaw the donation, which was from a private dental office in Manhattan, and Committee member Michele Penrose was instrumental in identifying a moving company that could handle the delivery from New York City to Albany.”
Also contributing to the donation process were Committee members Drs. Joseph Brofsky and Carl Tegtmeier.
The Cleft-Cranio Center is run by pediatric plastic surgeon Dr. Oluwaseun Adetayo. She is assistant professor of surgery at Albany Medical College and also the Section Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery. She is the region’s only physician fellowship trained in craniofacial and pediatric plastic surgery (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s School of Medicine). “My goal is to diminish any functional and aesthetic differences, great or small, during those formative years and into adulthood,” explains Dr. Adetayo.
Foundation Chair Dr. G. Kirk Gleason adds “Too often, seeking treatment for things like cleft lips, cleft palates, craniosynostoses and other dento/craniofacial anomalies, involves families having to schedule multiple appointments in several different locations. The AMC Cleft-Craniofacial Center allows patients to see specialists in plastic surgery, orthodontics, dentistry, speech language pathology, genetics and other disciplines in one setting, on one day. Our ability to facilitate a new chair will really help the Center to treat more patients.”
The Foundation extends sincere appreciation and gratitude to the staff of the Albany Medical College Foundation, notably Donna Beebe, Vice President, Development and James R. Kellerhouse, Assistant Vice President, Development, for their assistance in the sometimes complex process of getting the chair from Manhattan to upstate New York. “Most of all,” concludes Dr. Gleason, “we wish to thank Dr. John Stanescu of Midtown Dental Center; without his incredible generosity in gifting the chair, this story would have ended much differently.”
For the second year in a row, the New York State Dental Foundation has partnered with Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College in the South Bronx. Like the Foundation, Hostos is an educational agent for change, especially for underserved and at risk populations.
In celebration of this year’s Annual Scholarship Benefit, which raises funds to support students along their road to degree completion, the Foundation donated $1,500 to the Two Generation Program, whose purpose is to keep student-parents engaged with the College over the summer, thereby increasing retention and accelerating progress toward life success.
The Foundation is particularly invested in Hostos’ dental hygiene program, from which successful graduates earn an Associates in Applied Science degree. According to Foundation Executive Director Laura Stedman, “Hostos has the most diverse dental hygiene program in New York State, graduating the highest numbers of Latino and African American students. The Dental Hygiene Unit offers free, comprehensive dental hygiene services for all members of the community in an ultramodern patient care facility.”
Foundation Chair Dr. G. Kirk Gleason adds “The fact that 100 percent of the graduates in this program are employed as dental hygienists within six months of graduation is impressive, and surely a mark of the training that they receive pre graduation working in the Hostos Community Clinic.”
Hostos’ own Dr. Amarilis Jacobo (who also is a NYSDA delegate and member of the EDPAC Board of Directors) is this year’s co-chair of the College’s biggest fundraiser, the 2019 Scholarship Benefit. Dr. Jacobo states “My parents always told my siblings and me that the greatest gift one can give or receive is an education. Your greatest treasure is your education as no one can take it away from you. It is with great joy and honor that I serve as the co-chair for the 2019 Annual Scholarship Benefit "
For more information about Hostos’ Two Generation Program, including guidelines on donations, please click here.
Foundation staff will be touring the Dental Hygiene Patient Care Facility later this spring; stay tuned for photos of this exciting and significant program.
Seven Valleys Health Coalition this week received a 2019 GKAS Award from the New York State Dental Foundation. Included in this award is $4,800 to support the Mighty Molar Program expand its reach to include expectant parents and newborns.
Mighty Molar is more than an educational program for elementary school children and community members; Mighty Molar is a 6 foot tall smiling cartoon character who helps make learning about good oral hygiene a fun and memorable experience. Sometimes accompanying Mighty Molar is Murray the Toothbrush. Together, they attend community events and are featured in skits and other educational programs we bring to local elementary schools, day cares, and Head Start programs. Kids learn about healthy foods, how to brush their teeth, and tooth safety. SVHC staff, community members, senior volunteers, and SUNY Cortland students are all involved in sharing the message that teeth are meant to last a lifetime.
Anne A. Withers, Child Care Resource & Referral Program Director for the United Way Child Development Council, says “Expanding the outreach of the Mighty Molar Program is an excellent next step for oral health outreach in Cortland County.”
The GKAS Award will be used to create dental health record and education booklets to be given to new and expecting parents. The goal of the booklets is to help parents keep track of their child’s dental health record, receive helpful dental health quick facts, have a list of local dentists and a timeline of when a child should receive treatments such as fluoride varnish or dental sealants.
The Foundation is now accepting applications, due 10 August 2019, for the 2020 GKAS awards.
The GKAS Award recognizes an organization’s ability to build, expand or enhance education, access and/or capacity with respect to oral health care for children.
Winning applicants will receive up to $5,000, as determined by the NYSDF Board of Trustees. Winners will be announced at the end of the year.
Nominated community health centers or service programs must answer the following questions:
Nominators must complete the attached form, which includes a written statement and letters of support from a local public health organization.
All nominations must include a written statement of no more than one page detailing why the nominee should receive the award, including an explanation of HOW the nominee meets the criteria to merit recognition and HOW the nominee will use any GKAS Award funding.
All nominations must include a statement indicating why the nominator has chosen to seek award funding from the New York State Dental Foundation.
Once-a-year activities are NOT eligible for GKAS Award consideration.
All GKAS Award recipients MUST include NYS Dental Foundation logo and references in all promotional and press materials related to the activities for which they are receiving the GKAS Award.
Click here for forms.
Did you know that the major cause of oropharyngeal cancer (OPC), the Human Papilloma Virus type 16 and 18, are included in the HPV vaccine? HPV causes about 70% of current cases of head and neck cancer. While oropharyngeal cancer screening is essential don’t’ miss an opportunity to prevent oropharyngeal cancer in your patients. The New York State Dental Foundation and NYSDA have partnered with the NYS HPV Coalition to increase awareness about the HPV vaccine to prevent oral cancer.
Let parents know that you strongly support HPV vaccination as prevention of cancer. The vaccine gives the best immune response when given before the 13th birthday for both boys and girls but can be given to others as well. There are more OPC cases than cervical cancer cases now. According to the CDC, each year there are 12,900 new cases of Oropharyngeal cancer and 10,800 new cervical cancer cases. The reduction in cervical cancer is a result of the HPV immunization program for females beginning over a decade ago and within a short time we have the power to see similar results with OPC.
Make sure all staff in the office can answer questions about HPV vaccine with science based answers. Refer to the patients primary care provider or the local health department. By having primary care, dental care, and the health department work towards increasing the HPV vaccination rate, we will be able to prevent OPC’s well into the future.
For more information, click on the links below:
They say one person can make a difference and this event started with a dentist in California, Dr. Karin Irani, who learned that the only Veterans who received VA dental benefits were those who had a 100% disability or a dental related disability. Because she knew many veterans were falling through the cracks and unable to get dental care, she opened her office for a day around Veterans Day to provide that dental care at no cost. Soon her local dental association endorsed it, then the California Dental Association and then the American Dental Association. It has now spread across the country and this is our third year in New York State and our local dental association the Ninth District Dental Association who is the local component of the American Dental Association-the voice and guardian for America’s dental health-is very grateful for Touro Dental Health to open its wonderful facility to the Veterans today.
The New York State Dental Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the New York State Dental Association, has as their mission the support of programs and events that provide dental care to underserved populations in our state. For that reason, the Foundation has donated $2,500.00 to Touro Dental Health plus an additional $1,300.00 in dental supplies to support Touro’s initiative today. We also have a dozen dentists from the Ninth District Dental Association who have taken a day away from their offices to help as mentors. Places like Touro Dental Health can be an oasis in the desert for underserved populations in that they can offer dental care at a reduced fee structure and it is everyone’s hope that the pro-bono event today will enable those veterans and their families to get the dental care they need and deserve now and in the future.
This event is also meant to recognize the sacrifices that service members and their families have made in safeguarding the freedoms as Americans we all enjoy. We often don’t think about those sacrifices but today professional dentistry with this event wants the veterans and their families to know we acknowledge what they have given to this country and our appreciation for doing so. We want to thank Dean Ronnie Myers for embracing this project at its first mention. The Committee headed by Rachel Silva has done an excellent job in the planning and outreach and we have been very impressed by the students on the committee. Seeing them in action tells us that organized dentistry will be in good hands for many years to come. Of course a big thanks goes to all the faculty and staff who are taking part today in honoring our veterans.
We want to thank the elected officials who are here supporting the veterans, not only today but all year long. We are indebted to the Executive Directors of all the county Veterans Service Agencies who helped us get the word out and all they do on an everyday basis to help our veterans have better lives. Hopefully this event can make a difference for many of the veterans and their families that have come today and who will have better dental health in the years to come.
Dr. Carl Tegtmeier
Chair, Ninth District Dental Association’s Committee on Dental Health Planning and Hospital Dentistry
Trustee New York State Dental Foundation