Arcora Fall Newsletter

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Newsletter, November 2017

Washington Dental Service Foundation is now Arcora Foundation

New name, continued focus on improving oral health for all

We are pleased to announce our new name: Arcora Foundation.  Arcora is a combination of arc and oral, representing an arc toward health equity.  The name symbolizes our work to achieve health equity by partnering with communities and using evidence-based approaches to prevent disease, increase access to dental care, and ensure oral health is part of whole-person care.   To effect change, we collaborate with partners across the state to shape policies and increase advocacy for oral health.  We invest in new approaches, and use our technical expertise and grant funding to achieve these priorities:
  • Transformation - change health systems to improve oral health for everyone achieve these priorities
  • Access - expand access so all people receive the dental care they need to stay healthy 
  • Prevention - promote policies and practices to prevent oral disease before it starts

We are committed to changes that will most benefit those who bear the greatest burden or risk for oral disease including pregnant women, people with diabetes, lower-income families, and communities of color.  Our goal: Improve oral health with no one left behind.  We are driving towards 100 percent access and zero disparities. 

Visit our new website and learn more about our work, and how you can get involved.  


Community dental clinics, providing care to the underserved

To reduce disparities and increase access for more than one million adults in Washington with dental coverage through Medicaid (Apple Health) we support community dental clinics and other nonprofit programs to provide care for low-income people. 

Here’s some of what we’re doing:

  • Invested in community health centers and nonprofit clinics adding 300,000 additional patient visits each year since 2010.
  • Through our partnership with the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers, helping dental clinics learn about and share effective approaches to improve dental care for the state’s most vulnerable patients.

In the past 6 months, the Foundation has awarded $800,000 in grants to increase access to care for the underserved by expanding dental capacity across the state.  Cumulatively these grants will result in an additional 49,000 patient visits annually.  

  • Providence Spokane -- $400,000 to develop a 6-chair hospital based dental clinic and an 18-chair community dental clinic, in partnership with Community Health Association of Spokane (CHAS).
  • Unity Care NW -- $125,000 to develop a new 12-chair dental clinic co-located with a new health center facility in Ferndale.
  • Public Health Seattle and King County -- $125,000 to renovate and expand the Downtown Homeless clinic in Seattle from 6 to 7 operatories.
  • Highline School District -- $150,000 for 9 dental operatories to outfit a dental assisting training program for high school students (4 chairs) and a co-located Sea Mar Dental Clinic. 

2017 Legislative Session Highlights

Pilot for enhanced Medicaid reimbursements approved

State legislators considered a number of oral health issues during the long 2017 session. Arcora Foundation is excited to share that one of our top legislative priorities, the Oral Health Connections pilot, was funded in the state budget. Legislative advocacy by our partners in the dental provider and patient advocacy communities was very helpful in getting Oral Health Connections approved.  It is a testament to the benefits of collaboration among stakeholders who have an interest in promoting oral health.

Oral Health Connections is a three-year, multi-county pilot to test a system of care for pregnant women and patients with diabetes. Modeled after the successful Access to Baby & Child Dentistry (ABCD) public/private partnership, Oral Health Connections includes collaboration between medical and dental providers, outreach and care coordination for patients, and an  enhanced Medicaid dental benefit for pregnant women and people with diabetes. The state budget funds increased provider reimbursement rates for a set list of procedures, and Arcora Foundation will provide funding for provider and patient outreach and support, as well as an evaluation. The pilot will launch in the next year, and planning with the Health Care Authority, the state agency that oversees Medicaid, is currently underway. 

The 2017-19 operating budget also includes a proviso directing the Health Care Authority to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to identify at least two entities to administer the Medicaid dental program as a managed care program, separate from medical managed care. Arcora Foundation is monitoring the RFP process closely and is working to ensure that the new administrative model for the program works for providers and increases access to care for patients.


Oral health is improving for many Washington kids, but disparities remain

ABCD is expanding access for young children

According to the most recent Smile Survey, a statewide oral health assessment conducted by the Washington State Department of Health and funded by Arcora Foundation, the oral health of children in Washington is continuing to improve.  There were big drops in untreated tooth decay and 88 percent of all kids surveyed (preschool, kindergarten and third grade) are receiving dental care for cavities. These results demonstrate that children’s oral health programs, such as the Access to Baby and Child Dentistry (ABCD) are reaching and helping more kids. The 2015-2016 Smile Survey found that the prevalence of untreated decay declined significantly among preschoolers and third-graders from low-income households and among all racial and ethnic groups, compared to the 2005 Smile Survey. 

However, widespread oral health disparities still exist.  Children in third grade from low-income households had at least 60 percent higher rates of decay and need for treatment than children in higher income households. Children of color in second and third grade also have higher rates of decay and need for treatment compared to white children.  For example, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) children have about 50 percent more caries experience and more than twice the rate of rampant decay.  This means even more needs to be done to reach these children.

Reducing oral health disparities among children

Washington’s ABCD program, which links Medicaid-eligible children up to age 6 to dental care, has expanded to all 39 counties.  Managed by Arcora Foundation, ABCD provides enhanced payments to dentists who receive training in how to manage young children, promotes collaboration between medical and dental professionals to expand access to oral health services, and outreach to families to let them know care is available for their children.  Arcora Foundation’s role with ABCD includes:

  • Working with partners to ensure ongoing legislative support for enhanced reimbursement rates to dentists.
  • Assisting local organizations to provide the case management helpful to ensuring low no-show rates and successful visits.
  • Providing technical assistance for providers, champions and local program coordinators.
  • Training thousands of physicians, Head Start teachers, home visitors, community health workers and other health professionals, to pay attention to oral health and refer children to ABCD.   

We are developing targeted efforts, including digital advertising, to connect hard-to-reach families with ABCD.  The goal is to help remove barriers so that all children in our state can enjoy good oral health.  To learn more about the ABCD program or how to become an ABCD provider, contact Kathy O’Meara Wyman at (509) 307-8929.


Assessing and improving the oral health of seniors in Washington

This spring Arcora Foundation conducted a survey among Washington seniors (age 55 and older) to assess oral health attitudes and behaviors, and make comparisons to data collected in 2012.  More than 2,688 residents were surveyed by phone.  Two of the most significant findings is that more seniors are communicating with their health care providers about oral health and more seniors are now going to the dentist compared to 2012.

The percentage of Washington seniors who said their doctor, nurse or other health care worker talked with them about the importance of seeing a dentist nearly doubled, from 17% in 2012 to 30% today.  This is important because when the medical community talks about the connection between oral health and overall health it will likely motivate more seniors to seek dental care. Arcora Foundation has been training physicians all across the state to pay attention to oral health - and it’s making a difference. 
Other key survey findings:

  • Nearly all seniors in Washington (97%) recognize the importance of taking care of their oral health.
  • More than half of seniors feel that their teeth and gums are in very good shape (at 55% and 54%, respectively), up significantly from 2012. Meanwhile, self-reported occurrence of gum disease and tooth decay was kept at bay, at just 12% and 15%, statistically unchanged from 2012.
  • More seniors report going to the dentist on at least an annual basis than in 2012 (up from 69% to 76%). This is good news because preventing oral disease and expanding dental care for older adults must be a priority.  

Improving oral health for older adults in Washington

Arcora Foundation is working in a variety of ways to improve oral health for older adults including: 

  • Building dentists’ skills to better care for their older patients.  We teamed up with national experts to develop a complimentary day-long continuing education course, titled Improving the Oral Health of Your Older Patients. The course provides insight into assessing treatment options and delivering optimal care based on a patient’s goals, ability to pay, and health status.
  • Investing in nonprofit dental clinics that specialize in serving seniors to help seniors get the affordable care they need.
  • Partnering with AARP, Area Agencies on Aging, dental and medical providers, and other advocates to share oral health messages. 

To learn more about the CDE for older patients, contact Karen Lewis.


Spokane Oral Health Local Impact Network

Working with local partners to make measurable improvements

Arcora Foundation is partnering with several organizations and local dentists in Spokane to implement a Local Impact Network (LIN) focused on improving oral health.  A local impact network uses investments in a targeted geographic area to accelerate impact and reduce health disparities.  The objective of a LIN is to work with local stakeholders, especially dentists and health agencies, to design and implement strategies to prevent oral disease and improve oral health.   
Arcora Foundation’s role is to be a catalyst for change.  The concept is to use Arcora Foundation resources (grants, technical assistance and advocacy) to attract locally aligned investments.  These resources are combined and leveraged to support approaches that improve health equity.  The LIN strategies are designed to be community-driven so they can be sustained after a 3 year investment by Arcora Foundation.   

Smile Spokane is the organizing coalition supporting the LIN in Spokane and they contract with Arcora Foundation.  The involvement of dentists is crucial to the success of the LIN. To this end Nick Velis, DDS, FAGD chairs Smile Spokane. In addition, local organizations including Providence Sacred Heart and Spokane Regional Health District have signed on to lead implementation of key strategies that the evidence shows contribute to reducing disparities.

A Clinical Implementation Committee is currently being formed to weigh in on Spokane LIN’s direction and progress. If you are an oral health or medical clinician who would like to be involved in influencing the future of oral health in Spokane, please contact Jerrie Allard

Arcora Foundation plans on launching oral health local impact networks in other communities as well.  If you are interested, please contact Maureen Finneran.


New Mighty Mouth campaign begins in November

Messages will highlight the importance of checkups

The Mighty Mouth campaign aims to increase awareness about the value of oral health and motivate people to do more to prevent oral disease through healthy behaviors.  During November and December, The Mighty Mouth will be targeting lower-income women with messages about the importance of oral health checkups. Campaign messages will be delivered primarily through digital (online) ads and radio.  In a few areas (e.g. Spokane, Thurston, Cowlitz), ads also will be on television.  One series of ads targeting pregnant women reminds them dental care is part of prenatal care.  The video ads, in Spanish and English, feature women at a baby shower talking about the importance of getting dental care for a healthy pregnancy. 

The second campaign focuses on low-income women with young children. “Your child is healthier with a healthy mouth” is a key message, along with reminders that their child needs an oral health checkup by age one.   

Audiences are encouraged to visit the Mighty Mouth website for helpful tools and resources.  The website includes an option for patients to connect with DentistLink, a tool linking patients with dentist in their communities.

A key aspect of the campaign involves reaching out to organizations who interact with lower-income women.  We are asking these organizations to share oral health messages with their audiences through blogs and social media.  Micro-videos featuring physicians, dentists, and moms are available to help establish the norm that oral health is an essential part of overall health.  

How You Can Get Involved 

Share free Mighty Mouth materials with your audiences including articles for newsletters and websites, posters, infographics and social media content.  Help increase awareness about the importance of oral health and the need to brush, floss, eat healthy snacks and get regular checkups.   Go to The MightyMouth.org to learn more and help unleash the power of oral health.  Link to our Facebook and Twitter while you’re there and help deliver the message, “You’re healthier with a healthy mouth”.

To order posters, go to ArcoraFoundation.org.  Other campaign materials can be downloaded from the Resources link at TheMightyMouth.org.

Together we can improve oral, and overall health, for everyone in Washington.