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Bassett Healthcare Network expands community dental care

Poor gum and dental health has been associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, dementia, respiratory diseases and mortality. In February 2020, Bassett Healthcare Network, per American Dental Association recommendations, established a community dental health coordinator role to bridge the gap between patients in need of dental care and existing community oral health resources.

In addition to employing a CDHC, Bassett created an organizational and operational blueprint for patient outreach and care coordination, education and establishment of dental homes for a rural, underserved population. Bassett’s CDHC program aligns with the New York state Prevention Agenda priority area to promote healthy women, infants and children; in particular, the goal to reduce dental caries among children.

By leveraging partnerships with its hospital emergency departments, primary care practitioners, insurance navigators and community dental practices, Bassett developed workflows and relationships needed to carry out the highly individualized, time-consuming work of establishing dental homes for populations that are underserved, ultimately linking patients to resources that improve individual and population oral health.

The CDHC program was established during the onset of COVID-19, making access to care severely limited for key populations. Even with these limitations, the program helped 43 patients establish dental homes. Of these patients, 37 attended their first appointment, 35 were referred to pediatric dental services and 16 were referrals from EDs, which resulted in a 3.6% decrease in repeat emergency room visits.

For more information, contact Leah Carpenter, DMD, chief of dental services, at leah.carpenter@bassett.org or 607.547.6799.