Ana B. Ibarra
Sacramento-based California Healthline reporter Ana B. Ibarra has been following a battle being waged by independent practice dental hygienists who contend that actions by the state of California are forcing them to give up their most vulnerable patients, poor and frail people covered by Denti-Cal, the state’s Medicaid dental program.
In one story late last year, Ibarra captured the scene at a Rancho Cucamonga residential care facility where a visiting dental hygienist Gita Aminloo was caring for one of those patients, Devon Rising, who is blind and disabled. Continue reading
Photo: Heidi de Marco/KHNDental hygienist Gita Aminloo (left) and assistant Shirin Tavakolinia clean Devon Rising’s teeth. Rising, 42, who is mentally disabled and blind, can’t easily get to a dentist’s office, so Aminloo performs the dental cleaning at his residential home.
In stories for California Healthline, Ana B. Ibarra has been following a battle being waged by a cadre of independent practice dental hygienists who claim that state actions are forcing them to give up their most vulnerable patients.
At a residential care facility in Rancho Cucamonga last year, Ibarra described one of those hygienists at work.
Gita Aminloo was singing “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” the classic children’s song, to calm 42-year-old Devon Rising, who is blind and mentally disabled, so she could finish cleaning his teeth.
Oral health may be essential to overall health but the enduring gap between dental care and medical care impacts everything from how care is accessed to how services are financed, from how providers are educated to how research is pursued.
For millions of Americans, dental care is harder to find and pay for than medical care. Physicians and dentists operate in separate systems and oral and medical services are rarely integrated. Continue reading
Through public fights, complicated amendments and rumors of passage, Andy Miller of Georgia Health News followed the drama of House Bill 684.
And when the bill recently died a sudden death in the Georgia statehouse, Miller was there to let readers know.
“A bill to allow Georgia dental hygienists to work in safety-net settings without a dentist present appeared to get a strong push forward when it was approved by a House health committee,” he wrote. “But the chamber’s rules committee then blocked House Bill 684 from a vote on the floor, effectively killing it for the year.” Continue reading
From dental therapists working in clinics in rural Alaska and urban Minnesota to hygienists using telehealth technology in California schools, innovative models are showing promise in getting cost-effective dental care to some of the millions of Americans who now lack it, according to a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Today’s report, “Expanding the Dental Team,” examines three nonprofit settings where midlevel dental providers are employed as part of larger dental teams. The paper concludes that the workers have successfully expanded services to previously underserved populations; and that their employment is a cost-efficient method of delivering care.
The report offers case studies of a tribal-owned clinic in Alaska; a federally qualified health center in Minneapolis and a telehealth project operated by the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry at sites in California.
Study researchers conducted site visits, interviewed dental team members, clinic administrators and patients and reviewed practice records for the three programs. They found wide variation among the practices but concluded that all three models allowed nonprofits to stretch their funds while providing increase access to care. Continue reading