09:03 AM

DentaQuest Selects Six Health Equity Heroes For Exceptional Oral Health Efforts

Leaders are redefining prevention and care in their communities

DentaQuest, the nation’s leading oral health enterprise and largest Medicaid dental benefits company serving 24 million members across 30 states, announced its 2018 Health Equity Heroes, recognizing and commending the work of six leaders whose innovative actions are breaking down barriers and improving health for at risk individuals.

Now in its fourth year, the DentaQuest Health Equity Hero awards program honors clinical and community leaders for contributions locally and nationally. This year’s Health Equity Heroes are improving access to dental and other types of health care, promoting collaboration among health care providers, pioneering best practice models of care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and connecting communities around health and wellness.

“I’m very excited by the work our 2018 Health Equity Heroes are doing to change what’s not working in health care,” said Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest. “Their accomplishments are a reminder of the wealth of opportunity for each of us to step in and create change in our communities.”

The 2018 Heroes are:

Dr. Terry Dickinson, Executive Director of the Virginia Dental Association Foundation

Twenty years ago, knowing that more than half of Virginians do not have dental insurance or money to pay out of pocket, Dr. Dickinson piloted a large scale free care dental clinic in rural Virginia for people who have no other options for care. Over the past 20 years, the Wise County Mission of Mercy free care clinic has helped more than 23,000 people get much needed care. Dr. Dickinson’s model has been replicated by state dental associations across the United States.

Lee Specialty Clinic, Dr. Henry Hood (dentist) and Dr. Matt Holder (physician), Louisville, Kentucky

Lee Specialty Clinic is a one of a kind multi-specialty hub for compassionate, quality, patient-centered care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Lee Specialty Clinic treats the most complex patients. And even though all necessary clinical specialties are available under its roof, coordinating care is still a challenge. But that is changing. A new generation of health care clinicians is learning from the best practice models of Dr. Hood, Dr. Holder and Lee Clinic’s specialty teams and they are eager to incorporate these compassionate care practices into their daily engagement with their own patients.

Elaine Vivens of Children’s Oral Health Coalition of Cook’s Children’s

In the Fort Worth and Tarrant County area of Texas, Elaine has made teen oral health her mission. Teens, especially those living at near poverty levels, have multiple risk factors and that’s especially true for teens of color. Elaine is working to counter cultural impediments and misinformation—among the teens, their parents, the community, and even the medical and dental professionals who treat them.

George Mendoza, Superintendent of La Grande School District, Oregon

Superintendent Mendoza is a champion of school health programs (including dental) that are evidence-based, focused on prevention and targeted to the risk-level of students (K-12). With La Grande School District’s active consent process for health services, participation in health programming in the district is at 90 percent.

Dr. Terry Batliner of Sage Dental Clinics, Denver

Dr. Batliner and his dental clinics are known as a welcoming place for people who have been turned away by others because of race, gender identification, income or because they are covered by Medicaid. Dr. Batliner, a member of the Cherokee nation and former associate director of the Center for Native Oral Health Research at the University of Colorado, has a special concern for dental care of people living in challenging circumstances – in native communities, rural areas, and inner cities. In these areas, where poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse are rampant, health is a low priority.

Bridgette Melvin, HealthFirst Healthy Village, Brownsville, New York

Bridgette runs community health and wellness programming at HealthFirst’s Healthy Village in the Brownsville area of Brooklyn, New York City, one of New York City’s most dangerous and most unhealthy neighborhoods. Health care is typically urgent care. Residents are isolated, depressed, and overweight. Bridgette is working to change unhealthy social dynamics, getting residents to connect with one another and with local health and wellness resources. People are getting involved in self-care, nutrition and exercise. They are losing weight and improving indicators for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Each hero will receive a $1,000 donation from DentaQuest’s Citizenship Fund toward a nonprofit of his or her choice that is committed to promoting health equity.


About DentaQuest

DentaQuest Based in Boston, Mass., DentaQuest (www.dentaquest.com) is a leading national oral health company and the largest in the Medicaid space. Along with its charitable DentaQuest Foundation, its clinical DentaQuest Care Group and its educational DentaQuest Institute, its mission is to improve the oral health of all. Follow DentaQuest on Twitter @DentaQuest, Facebook at www.facebook.com/DentaQuest and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/DentaQuest, and stay up to date at WhatsNew.DentaQuest.com.