Weekly update from the Arizona Department of Health Services:
I had the delightful experience of meeting with our former Director, Jack Dillenberg at our AZ Developmental Disabilities Planning Council meeting last week. Our Council meeting was out at AT Still University’s AZ School of Dentistry & Oral Health. It was great seeing Jack again- he hasn’t changed a bit- he’s just as enthusiastic and animated as ever.
Most of all- it was great to see the great public health work that the school is doing (he’s the Dean). Not only do they prepare students to practice dentistry- but they encourage students to commit to a lifetime of involvement with communities, including serving folks with disabilities. Check out Jack’s 2 minute video to see him in person.
Oral Health Teledentistry
Most folks know that good oral health is needed to prevent oral diseases- which can be progressive, cumulative, and more complex over time. If left untreated, tooth decay leads to needless pain and suffering; difficulty in speaking, chewing, and swallowing; missed school days; increased cost of care. There’s also good evidence that poor oral hygiene and health increases the risk of other systemic health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
One of Arizona’s biggest challenges is the lack of access to oral health care in the rural and frontier areas of the state. Our Oral Health shop has a HRSA grant that helps us to focus on developing teledentistry… and we’ve been one of the few states piloting this. There’s a report posted on our website describing the pilot. We have 4 enhanced dental team practice models using teledentistry and/or affiliate practice dental hygienists. They include: Northern Arizona Council of Governments Head Start, a pediatric dentist and summer camps for preschool children; a partnership with two IHS dental service units – one in 6 elementary schools for children on the Hopi Reservation and the second in Sells; a pediatric dentist opening a satellite office in a rural area 200 miles from his practice.
There are lots of benefits to maximizing the use of teledentistry in the rural parts of the state- but the biggest are improved access, cost efficiency, and better patient satisfaction.
National Oral Health Report
The Pew Center on the States released a report this week that shows the need for preventative oral health care in the US. The report highlights the rising number of people with dental problems who end up in hospital ERs.
AZ Trauma System a Model for South Korea
We had the pleasure of meeting with a delegation of health officials from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) this week to talk about Arizona’s Trauma System. The Director General of Public Health policy (Byung Guk Yang, MD) and his team met with our Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System team to talk about how we developed Arizona’s trauma system over the last 3 years. Arizona has gained a national reputation for our ability to put together a solid trauma system in just the last 3 years. When we began our quest to develop AZ’s system 3 years ago we had exactly 0 Level IV Trauma Centers in AZ- and we just signed up our 16th Level IV Center this month. That’s progress.
The Republic of Korea’s Health Ministry has been charged with and funded $1B US to develop their national trauma system over the next 5 years. Their delegation wanted to visit Arizona and Southern California to view first hand our systems as they embark on their quest to develop their trauma system. We spent a lot of time on Tuesday working with their team with a focus on the importance of collecting solid hospital and pre-hospital trauma data- so they can use data analysis to inform the development of their trauma system strategy.
For the Modern AZ Mom
Please join us in encouraging pregnant women and new moms to sign up for Text4baby. Text4baby is a program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition that provides pregnant women and new moms with information to help them give their babies the best possible start in life. Text4baby is the country’s first free, health education program using text messages. Participating national cell phone companies deliver Text4baby messages to their subscribers at no charge. Pregnant women and new mothers receive expert advice texted directly to their cell phones. The weekly messages are timed to their due date or their baby’s birth date through the baby’s first year. The messages deal with nutrition, immunizations and birth defects prevention, among many other topics.
CMS announced today that it will partner with Text4Baby to promote enrollment in Medicaid. Current Text4Baby users are receiving a new message providing a connection to the InsureKidsNow phone number and website for information about how to sign up. So far, 6,000 Arizonans have enrolled in Text4baby since the program started in February 2010. You can help increase Arizona’s enrollment by spreading the word among pregnant women and new families or by encouraging other organizations to sign up as an official partner with the Text4baby program. To learn more about the Text4baby Program, go to www.text4baby.org.
Take a minute to check out the new and improved HealthCheck Programs website. The HealthCheck Programs include the Well Woman HealthCheck Program and Fit at Fifty HealthCheck Program. Both of these programs are primarily federally funded through the CDC and provide uninsured Arizonans with vital access to breast, cervical and colon cancer screening and diagnostics. The new website is a vast improvement from its predecessor and will greatly increasing access to and awareness of these important programs. While you’re on the site, take a look at the upcoming National Dress in Blue Day (it’s tomorrow) activities on the main page. If you have any comments or feedback on the new site, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will Humble, MPH
Director, Arizona Department of Health Services