Spring arrives on the Mountain

I am so thankful that I was able to get vaccinated – an advantage to being 75. Jamie, as a teacher, was able to get her vaccination as well.

Dr. Jack directs traffic for Jerome vaccination day.

We were fortunate that Spectrum Health, and our Jerome Town Council, staff and volunteers, conducted a day of free vaccinations for all in attendance and provided over 300 shots to locals. However, living in Arizona has presented challenges to maintaining mitigation, with our Governor eliminating the mask requirement and opening bars and restaurants – many of whom do not require social distancing – so no surprise that Covid cases are starting to rise again.

Dr. Jack participates by video in Dr. Jamie Edelson’s future of dentistry conference in Mexico City.

I continue to stay busy providing webinars promoting the necessity of good oral health to maintain good overall health. Recently, I had the privilege of being on a panel looking at how to create a “no caries” future for Dr. Jaime Edelson in Mexico City with some extraordinary dental leaders. 

The growing emergence of DSOs, Dental Therapists and the increasing role of Dental Hygienists have all contributed to an increased awareness that periodontal disease is associated with many systemic health issues including both kidney and pancreas illness.

Dr. Jack welcomes dental student leader and friend Dennis Spain to Jerome, reconnecting after 50 years

The continuing development of innovative technologies from teledentistry/telehealth, lasers, 3D printing to name a few adds to the opportunity to engage more people/patients into quality affordable oral health care. This includes, seniors, those living in rural communities and those with special needs.

Please explore these opportunities and work with health leaders, insurance companies and policy makers to bring our valuable and needed services to those in need.

Stay well and committed to being a positive force for overall health, equity and promoting accessible and affordable health care for all.

Welcome to 2021

Jack’s Man Mine in the Jerome snow.
Welcome to 2021 and the unique challenges we face in this new decade which has brought with it a variety of unique events and challenges including the continuation of a worldwide pandemic.  

Those in the dental profession seem to be doing an excellent job of protecting their staff and patients from the spread of the disease. It has become abundantly clear of the need to integrate oral health into overall health among health providers, and especially our patients. The link/association of oral diseases, i.e. periodontal disease to diabetes, heart issues and behavioral issues continue to emerge.  

To help respond to this compelling need my friend and colleague, Dr. Tony Hashemian, and I have created a 501C3 nonprofit organization Global Smile Health. Together, we have created DrHealthyMouth – www.DrHealthyMouth.org to help raise the oral health literacy of current and future patients while educating the dental team. This team includes dentists, hygienists, therapists dental assistants along with medical colleagues about the importance of knowing the social determinants of health, which are potential health and social service professionals in communities available for collaboration.  

Healthcare providers need to expand the use of shared health records and fully utilize the oral health team to build trust and demonstrate empathy toward their patients. Patients want to know dental providers not only care about their teeth but about their overall health as well. As I remind my colleagues, it’s not just about teeth, but the person attached to the teeth, their family attached to the patient and the community attached to the family.  

Below a brief video about my new project “Dr.HealthyMouth.” Please check it out.

Dr. Jack is Keeping Busy During These Challenging Times

As we all try to stay safe and healthy while the pandemic continues to grow in the U.S., Dr. Jack continues to provide virtual webinars, videos and lectures for the dental industry. In his current role as Mayor elect of Jerome, AZ – he becomes Mayor on November 10th – he has the opportunity to participate in Yavapai County leadership meetings to learn and contribute.

Dr. Jack just completed a one hour webinar on “Public Health Is Essential for Oral and Overall Health – Especially Now,” in collaboration with colleagues for the upcoming Greater New York Dental Meeting that will be virtual this year. We all know that dental care is essential and safe so it needs to continue to be a priority for everyone in order to maintain overall good health.

With Covid -19 numbers increasing, please wear your mask in public, maintain social distance, wash your hands and avoid group events – especially indoors. The number of new cases will continue to increase into 2021. 

Please stay safe.

Dr. Jack elected the new Mayor for Jerome, Ariz

In a surprising election outcome, as Dr. Jack was seeking re-election to the Jerome Town Council, he emerged with the most votes making him the presumptive Mayor Elect. He will take his seat as Mayor at the November 10th Town Council meeting.

Volunteers building the planter’s for Jerome’s Community Garden project.

The town of Jerome has felt the effect of the terrible pandemic with the number of tourists -the town’s major source of revenue – reduced significantly. It seems to be improving slowly as people are happy to leave the high temperatures of the Phoenix metropolitan area to cool off in the mountains of Central Northern Arizona.

Dr. Jack has been busy participating in a number of projects to promote the necessity and safety of visiting a dental office/clinic. Dental offices are very safe as dentists and staff members practice infection control and prevention regularly in their offices. Now they have added additional protocol in place to further enhance the safety of the dental experience.

To help policy makers and elected leaders not give in to the fear of going for a dental visit, Dr. Jack created a ninety second video with his good friend Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, a physician and former state health director during the same time as Dr. Jack. The video was sent to Governors and other leaders and was very well received.

There will be other opportunities for Dr. Jack to provide advice and guidance to other health professionals and patients during the next few weeks. He will keep you posted.

The Band Black Forest Society playing at Dr. Jack’s neighbor’s for the neighborhood.

Stay healthy and safe and please wear a mask when in public – they do work – maintain your social distance and wash your hands often.

Safety first, as dental offices, and other businesses begin to open

In order for dental practices to succeed during the pandemic and have patients return, dental offices need to be sensitive to their fears. This can be done by following the CDC/ADA recommended safety procedures including interviewing patients on the phone prior to setting up their appointment, scheduling them when no other patients are there, or just one or two at a time, separating them in the waiting area. Common practices should include taking temperature when patients arrive, making sure operatories are sanitized between patients and so forth.

Dr. Jack with League of Women Voter’s Town Council Forum moderator.

This “new” commitment to safety, and the increased awareness of oral health being a determinant of overall health, provides an opportunity for all oral health providers to be a positive force in improving the health of dental patients. For example, now dental practitioners have the opportunity and the responsibility to educate their diabetic patients on sound nutrition and A1C testing. Please check with the insurers to see if they are willing to add this as reimbursable procedures. It is possible to move in that direction to succeed now and into the future.

Dr. Jack in his Man Mine participating in a live Zoom meeting!

While still at home, Dr. Jack has been working with a few innovative groups, creating webinars, publications and advice for oral health providers and dental industry companies. It is becoming more common for this activity from our professional organizations and dental schools due to COVID-19, and will continue to be the norm over the next few months, as dental offices continue to open and make changes to comply with the new safety requirements.

Jack and Jamie celebrating her birthday at the Asylum restaurant in Jerome.

Dr. Jack continues to contribute and urges all healthcare professionals to reassess their practices, especially when it comes to improving the overall health and safety of dental patients and staff.

Safety, Health, Innovation and Community our new post pandemic priorities 

The new decade has begun in a very unexpected fashion. We are dealing with a viral pandemic, an economic catastrophe and millions of health care providers facing issues they never anticipated.

As a consequence of this pandemic, most of my speaking gigs have been cancelled or postponed with the exception of an international webinar for Colgate. The webinar I created was on integrating oral health into primary care, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out over 4,000 live viewers watched it. For those who are interested, here’s the link to their Webinar page: Colgate Webinar.

Dr. Jack is busy preparing for his Colgate Webinar presentation.

While we all try to manage our personal lives with many families staying home, some travelers stranded and jobs evaporating – we must try to use this difficult time to rethink and possibly reorganize our health care system so it provides a means for providers to work more collaboratively, payers – including insurers – must work to promote prevention and the integration of overall health care while reducing costs – while still making a profit, Healthcare should be about promoting health and not greed.

Jack enjoys time in his Man Mine.

The separation of oral health/care from medical care years ago has continued to promote a siloed approach with separate health records, payment mechanisms, and a real lack of collegial collaboration of providers who are still very provider-focused rather than patient-focused. To meet the needs of patients, providers should consider opening their offices open during lunchtime, as well as on occasional evenings and weekends, in order to be more patient-centric.

In addition, the expansion and reimbursement of tele-health procedures will increase the access of care to rural, elderly and isolated patients. The innovative discussions among health industry leaders – including, manufacturers, distributors, providers, educators and payers – need to address how the health professions can do better and be more efficient and equitable by consolidating. Potentially, dentistry could become a specialty of medicine. Harvard School of Dental Medicine started in their Medical School, and continues to this day, to incorporate the first two years of basic sciences side-by-side with medical students. I would not be surprised if in this decade we witness dental education and practice blending with medical education and practice.

We need to put the mouth back into the body and treat it as a specialty of medicine. Some specialties of medicine include – ophthalmology, cardiology, neurology, etc. – why not include oral medicine?  This idea isn’t new – it just needs to be more seriously evaluated. Dr. Don Giddon, DMD, Ph.D former NYUCD Dean and Harvard faculty has been promoting this idea for decades. This is food for thought as we all try to make the best of a difficult situation. 

COVID-19 pandemic – an opportunity for you to make a difference

As I sit here in Jerome, Arizona I am trying to focus on not catching this disease while doing what I can as a public health provider and a community leader. I realize that this is a generational moment that could not have been imagined or predicted. Here in Jerome, a town of 457 people, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona is being called upon to thrive while shops, galleries, restaurants, bars and wine tasking rooms, are closed and jobs are evaporating. I marvel at the generosity of a local restauranteur who opened the doors of his restaurants to distribute the remaining food for free to locals. Other healthy citizens are preparing food for those that are unable to leave their homes and the town shuttle driver is donating his time to bring food from nearby markets.

Dr. Jack works from his “man mine” to stay connected with colleagues and friends.

Those of us in the dental field are asked to not provide “elective” dental services – which has a significant financial impact on our practices and clinics. I wish that organized dentistry would work with our other health care professionals to see how dental personnel – dentists, hygienists, therapists, community health workers and assistants can be integrated into the overall health/medical environment. We need to work with the health insurers/payers to develop reimbursable ways that tele-health can be an effective means to provide needed services to our patients without them coming to our offices/clinics. We need to adopt reimbursement opportunities allow those with special needs – those with autism, down syndrome and other conditions to receive “elective” dental care during this time that is draining our health care resources. 

Miss Holly Scout manages to sleep while Dr. Jack conducts business on his phone while at home.

Like everyone else, I too have had to make some significant adjustments to my calendar and travel plans. The Senior Dental Leaders program in London – at which I was to be a speaker – was postponed for a  year.  Additional speaking and meeting engagements in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Nantucket and Israel were all postponed for up to a year. While an inconvenience, these changes are not nearly as impactful as the significant effect the pandemic is having on so many.

Unfortunately, the strain on our health system and each other will get worse before it gets better – but it will get better! Please work together as leaders – though that may not be your personal aspiration – to engage our colleagues, elected officials and payers so that we can be part of the solution in creating a meaningful, responsive, caring health care system that adequately pays our providers while not over charging our patients for the care they need.

Be like Miss Holly Scout, chill out during this time of social distancing.

Please be safe as we all go thru this difficult time. Thank you for listening and for all you do to be part of the solution.

2020 Vision is a key goal for the New Year

Dr. Jack is in recovery after his eye surgery. All went well.

The year started with Dr. Jack receiving needed eye surgery on his left eye in an effort to clear his blurry vision as a result of scare tissue built up over the years of prior eye surgeries. It has been a slow but steady recovery.

Dr. Jack shares dinner with Dan Perkins and Karen Auiler from Aegis Communication along with Dr. Kris and Dustin from Brighterway Institute.

A week after the surgery, another significant health issue emerged, Dr. Jack experienced a minor stroke. The reality proved to be not as bad as the initial concern. Dr. Jack was admitted to the Verde Valley Medical center where he received comprehensive care and began treatment to minimize the stroke’s effect. He was fortunate that the main issue was a slight loss of balance and memory while all other functions, ie, speech, cognition, etc. remained normal. He continues to improve as his physical therapy, acupuncture and appropriate medications are all helping in his recovery.

Judge Larry Winthrop and wife Pat celebrate Dr. Jack’s appointment to the Az. Supreme Court Attorney, Discipline, Probable Cause Committee.

While all this was going on, Dr. Jack was contacted by the Arizona State Supreme Court. He was asked to become a public member of their Attorney, Discipline, Probable Cause Committee. This Committee oversees all the attorneys in Arizona and makes recommendations for discipline after reviewing investigations conducted by the State Bar following complaints about the attorney’s actions or behavior. It is a very high honor for Dr. Jack and the appointment is for three years.

ASDOH Dean Bob Trombly, wife Colleen and some of their old friends visit Dr. Jack and Jamie in Jerome.

As the weather moves from winter to spring, visitors plan to visit Dr. Jack and Jamie in Jerome. 

Dr Jack returns to New York to lead the Public Health Symposium at the Greater New York Dental Meeting (GNYDM)

This is the second year that Dr. Jack led the Public Health Symposium which consisted of four panels of national healthcare leaders. The panels focused on current issues and ideas for a healthier country, and the discussions included all health professionals working in a collaborative manner.

Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders Board meeting at GNYDM.

The program started by reviewing emerging trends among providers, payers and regulators that will influence the future of healthcare. David Gesko, from Health Partners, identified areas of focus that will be part of the dental practice landscape in 2030, including the integration of oral health into primary care. Dr. Allen Finkelstein discussed how reimbursement will continue to be a key driver for practice success. Physician educators Drs. Hugh Silk and Patricia Braun showed how the collaboration of medical and dental providers and insurers is essential for achieving improved health and health equity by 2030.

Dr. Jack runs into old friend and colleague Peter DuBois, Executive Director of the California Dental Association at the GNYDM.

The panel looked at the opportunity to improve global health equity brought together private and non profit examples.These included the growth and impact of Dental Service Organizations, global oral health care mission trips and care for the homeless. Steve Thorne, CEO and Founder of Pacific Dental Services (PDS), described their successful practice model and how “service” is an integral part of their culture with PDS sponsoring programs in Ethiopia, Guatemala and Fiji. Also on the panel was Dr. Othman Shibly, University of Buffalo dental faculty, who recently returned from two service trips to the Middle East where he provided dental care to thousands of refugees. Dr. Kris Volcheck, CEO and Founder of Brighterway Institute in Arizona, provides services to the homeless, veterans and boys and girls clubs.

Dr. Shuaib Khaderi and wife Farha from Abu Dhabi visit with Dr. Jack at GNYDM.
Panelists on Special Needs, Neil Romano, Drs. Rick Rader and Maureen Perry with Dr. Jack at Public Health Symposium, GNYDM.

The Panel on Special Needs brought home the critical issues facing the over 60 million Americans with disabilities, including those with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD). The panel included global leaders, Drs. Rick Rader and Maureen Perry and Chairman of the US Disabilities Council, Neil Romano.

The fourth panel brought together non-dentists who have demonstrated the critical role physican assistants, nurses, dental hygienists and dental therapists play in improving oral and systemic health through collaboration. Kudos to nurses Dr. Judi Haber and Erin Hartnett, physician assistant, Dr. Rand Danielsen, dental hygienist Anne Battrell, and dental therapist, Drew Christianson, for their team approach and meaningful presentations.

Dr. Jack meets former boss Governor Fife Symington in line to board Phoenix flight. Jack served in his Cabinet as Health Secretary for four years.
Dr. Jack and Jamie visit with Jack’s oldest friend Howard Marks while in New York.

This interactive and collaborate conference provided the opportunity for Dr. Jack to visit with old friends, classmates from dental school and some ASDOH graduates.

Dr. Jack enjoys October in Jerome with visits to Phoenix and California

Jamie, Veterinarian Virginia Kennaway and Dr. Jack at the Jerome 50th Anniversary of Woodstock humane society party.

October was an incredibly busy month for Dr. Jack and the Town of Jerome as well. Mid-month, Kaleidoscope Week brought together a gathering of artists, students and locals to celebrate  the 50th anniversary of Woodstock for a celebration at Spook Hall to raise money for Jerome’s Humane Society.

Dr. Jack making his first kaleidoscope at class taught by Steve Hopkins, Randy and Shelley Knapp in Jerome.

The next day, Dr. Jack and Jamie participated in a kaleidoscope making class taught by Steve Hopkins, and Randy and Shelly Knapp. Dr. Jack succeeded in making his first Kaleidoscope. The gathering of artists, students and locals culminated with the Humane Society (JHS) fundraiser Brunch that brought hundreds of people to the beautiful outdoor event to celebrate, enjoy great food and raise money for the JHS. 

After all of the activities in Jerome, Dr. Jack drove to ATSU to teach a Public Health class with Dean, Dr. Don Altman, for the ATSU Physician Assistant students. After Dean Altman discussed basic public health, Dr. Jack focused on the skills needed to be a successful health care provider in the emerging healthcare system. These included, integrity, service and leadership. It’s always a pleasure for Dr. Jack to visit the campus. 

Dr. Jack with ATSU Physician Assistant students after his Public Health presentation

The next day, Dr. Jack as Board Chairman for the Brighterway Institute joined dear friend, Dan Perkins, and other Aegis Publishing leaders and Brighterway Board members in a meeting to discuss a potential collaboration.  Later in the week he returned to Jerome and he and Jamie participated in the Jerome Fire Department fundraising costume party. It was an incredible event that literally completely filled Spook Hall. It was a night filled with amazing costumes and music by the Naughty Bits.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego welcomes attendees to the 2019 Arizona Public Health Association Annual Meeting.
Dr. Jack and old friend and colleague Dr. Bob England catch up at the AzPHA Meeting.

The month wound down with Dr. Jack participating in the AZ Public Health Association annual meeting. It was another opportunity for him to visit with many old friends and colleagues – sharing breakfast and catching up with Dr. Bob England was a special treat. Lastly, Dr. Jack made a quick visit to California to visit with more friends and colleagues at Bien Air in Irvine. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about their innovative products.

"The most difficult glue to find is the one to repair broken trust." Dr. Jack Dillenberg