Posts Tagged ‘COHI’

Free Dental Care for Adults – May 5, 2012

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Free Dental Care. The Vermont State Dental Society is sponsoring  statewide free dental care on May 5, 2012.  Vermont is the first state to offer this event with dentists across the state participating.  Here in the Upper Valley, Drs. Kraitz, Gold and Blicher have reach across the river and enlisted New Hampshire dentists to make this an Upper Valley event.     The participating dentists are Drs. Baker, Blicher, Denk, Gold, Governo, Kravitz, Meyers, Petrescu-Boboc, Santavicca and Willette.  Along with these dentists, hygienists and dental assistants are also voluntering their time for patient care.  In preparation for May 5th, 46 patients have had oral health screenings and xrays at the Red Logan Clinic in White River Junction, and will have follow up care at Red Logan, as needed, after May 5th.  The range of services include hygiene, restoration, root canals and extractions.   Partners in the Upper Valley include the Vermont State Dental Society, Grafton Sullivan County Dental Society, the Red Logan Dental Clinic and the Community Oral Health Initiative of the Upper Valley.

Improving Oral Health – Letter to the Editor, Valley News 2/4/12

Monday, February 20th, 2012

To the Editor:

In response to “Sucrose is Bad for the Teeth” letter, COHI (the
Community Oral Health Initiative) invites the writer and others to
join its efforts to improve oral health of children, families and
adults in the Upper Valley. COHI, a group of Upper Valley residents
who recognize the importance of oral health in their own work, draws
upon the knowledge of practicing dentists, directors of local health
foundations and community health workers to discuss the most pressing
oral health access and advocacy issues currently facing their

Two programs worth noting in our community that address children’s
oral health are Upper Valley Smiles and Upper Valley HEAL. Upper
Valley Smiles, a school-based program of Alice Peck Day Memorial
Hospital, provides oral health education, screenings, and preventive
services (fluoride varnish and sealants) for students in Lebanon,
Enfield, Canaan, White River and Newport elementary schools. With
financial support from the DHMC Dept. of Community Health Improvement
and the Boyle Fund at the VT Community Foundation, APD’s Upper Valley
Smiles dental hygienist also provides oral health education,
screenings and preventive services for young children at the Lebanon
and Hartford WIC clinics. Upper Valley HEAL (Healthy Eating Active
Living), hosted by the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, is working
with numerous early care centers to limit fruit drinks; assisting
schools, including the Mascoma District, to significantly limit the
availability of sugar-sweetened juice drinks offered in their schools,
and partnering with several regional recreation departments and
after-school programs to shape policies and practices that promote
water and low-fat milk, while limiting children’s access to
sugar-added beverages. Upper Valley HEAL hopes to have 50-100
regional organizations “signed-on” as partners in this effort during

COHI welcomes members of the community to join its efforts. For more
information, please go to or call Nancy DuMont,
APD Community Health, at 603-443-9548.

Toni LaMonica, Co-Chair of COHI
Hanover, NH

A Personal Story: Nancy Dumont, Alice Peck Day Hospital

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

“It’s easy to raise money to take care of the children, but it’s very difficult to find money to take care of adults.“
- Nancy DuMont

Nancy DuMont is the Manager of the Department of Community Health at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital, located in Lebanon, New Hampshire. In a recent interview with COHI intern Arthur Kim, she shared a story about a patient who came to her in severe pain due to advanced periodontal disease.  Ms. DuMont was able to find a dentist to see the patient for an emergency visit, but the diagnosis was very discouraging; the patient needed all her teeth extracted. This is an expensive procedure, and one which the patient could not afford.

Ms. DuMont learned that her patient could receive treatment through a dental assistance program in New Hampshire which recruits volunteer dental professionals to treat elderly, disabled, or otherwise at-risk individuals who lack the resources to pay for needed care. But the waiting list to get help was a year long. This meant that Ms. DuMont’s patient would have to spend an entire year on intense antibiotics and pain medications while she waited for a chance to be treated. As of April 2011, Ms. Dumont’s patient is still waiting to be treated – and still on heavy medications.

Ms. Dumont’s professional experiences have taught her that this story is typical. There are more resources, she says, for children who need dental help; she has found, for example, that dentists are more willing to accept Medicaid for child patients.  But for adults who cannot afford care, the options are very limited. And the phone calls keep coming in – practically every day, and she finds herself speaking with another individual in need of help.

Reprint of Putting Teeth Into Health Reform

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

In April, 2009, two COHI members, dentist Toby Kravitz and foundation director Tom Roberts, teamed up to write an op ed piece that ran in The Valley News.  The article is reprinted here, in its entirety:

Putting Teeth into Health Care Reform

There’s a communicable disease rampant in many people’s bodies.

Untreated, it can lead to organ loss, the possibility of abscesses, brain infection and even death. It is the most common chronic disease in children. If this disease occurred anywhere else in the body, the Center for Disease Control would likely have declared a public health emergency.

But the body part affected is our mouths. The organs are our teeth. The disease is caries, better known as dental decay or cavities.

In Vermont and New Hampshire, we can see the signs of an oral health crisis taking place around us: People walking into emergency rooms with so much pain that they are begging to have their teeth pulled out. Too many young adults have mouths riddled with bad teeth and need of dentures or a mouthful of extensive and expensive dental care.

A local organization, the Ottauquechee Health Foundation, provides grants on behalf of individuals who can’t afford their health care for those who live in their service area. Oral health requests now pre-dominate. Last year, two-thirds of applications and two-thirds of dollars went to dental needs.

Studies show that poor oral health impacts overall health, leading to chronic pain and making it harder to succeed in school or find a job. Yet we have a health care system that continues to treat the mouth as if it was not a part of our body. And there’s a different tolerance of what’s acceptable in the way of disease, chronic pain and risk to the body. There is a different set of insurances for dental care, both private and public. Only half the population has dental insurance.

People without sufficient insurance and people without the means to pay for dental care are going without the oral health care that they need. Those with Medicaid struggle to find a dentist who will treat them. Adults on Medicaid are faced with restricted benefits and limited access.

Although many area dentists do take Medicaid patients, donate their time or work for reduced fees for needy patients, many do not. Why don’t more take Medicaid? The reimbursement rate is less than 65 percent of the true cost, which does not allow dentists to cover their overhead rates. Others are concerned about a higher no-show rate for these appointments. The limitations on Medicaid dental benefits for adults create additional barriers.

A doctor in an emergency room doesn’t get paid any less if her patients don’t pay their bills, nor does a primary care doctor working for a hospital see their salary decline if a patient doesn’t show up. Most dentists on the other hand, have small offices, with one or two dentists, where there is a direct connection between who pays and what the practice’s income looks like at the end of the month.

Too many people do not place a priority on their personal oral health. Some have learned from their parents that they likely will lose all their teeth before they are 60 and don’t even try to keep up oral hygiene.

Concerned about oral health needs in the Upper Valley, a dedicated group of dentists, health care providers and funders have formed the Community Oral Health Initiative to look for solutions to our communities’ oral health needs.

How will we improve our oral health? There are roles for all of us to play. We all need to recognize as a matter of public policy that oral health needs to be on par with other health care needs. Then coverage for care and proper reimbursement rates need to be prioritized so that they are aligned with other health care needs.

Dentists will play a part. As the Medicaid scope of coverage and rates improve, more dentists will participate in the program. Dentists will continue to volunteer their time at free clinics like the Red Logan. And they will continue to forgive a portion of their fee to participate in Ottauquechee’s Good Neighbor grant program. If there is community interest perhaps that program might extend beyond the Woodstock area to cover the entire Upper Valley.

And each of us has a role. We can help change community norms so that all children grow up expecting to have a healthy set of teeth. We need to each take personal responsibility for our oral health care and for that of our children. The basic preventive steps—brushing, flossing, eating snacks like apples that clean our teeth in the middle of the day and staying away from high sugar foods, especially sipping on soda and energy drinks throughout the day—can go a long way to ensure we only need to visit our dentist for regular preventive appointments.

Our oral health must become a priority, both in the Upper Valley and in the rest of the country. It is a problem that is ours to solve and solutions are within our reach, so that everyone, rich or poor, has the same access to care for a hole in their teeth or gums as for a hole in their arm.

As national attention turns to health care reform, one message we ought to all agree on is that we must put teeth into health care reform.

Toby Kravitz, DDS, is a Norwich dentist and chair of the Community Oral Health Initiative. Tom Roberts is the director of the Ottauquechee Health Foundation and past chair of COHI.

Tom Roberts

Norwich Dentist Recognized for Oral Health Efforts

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

On Saturday, Oct. 9, Dr. Toby Kravitz was recognized by Granite United Way  during half time at the Dartmouth football game for his involvement with COHI and his efforts to spotlight the importance of oral health within the Upper Valley. A graduate of the University of Vermont and Temple University School of Dentistry, Dr. Kravitz established his own dental practice in Norwich in 1989. Since 1996, he has served with Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center’s dental staff. He is also a devoted volunteer dentist at Red Logan Dental Clinic in White River Junction.

Dr. Kravitz previously served as a co-chair for COHI and, as the United Way has recognized, “he has provided quiet credibility to COHI’s efforts.”

Vanessa Hurley