Goodbye 2022, hello 2023! What a year…
From a loooooong midterm election season to the World Cup, inflation, the war in Ukraine, the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and so much more, there has been a lot on our minds. So much so that it is difficult at times to remember the accomplishments we all certainly made throughout the year.
Here’s a snapshot of NCOHC’s 2022. Our coalition of oral health advocates accomplished a lot, but there is always more to do as we usher in 2023.
We decided to go big for Oral Health Day 2022, tackling the topic, “Equity in Action,” to try and define how we can all work toward a more accessible oral health system.
Dr. Eleanor Fleming gave the keynote address, highlighting systemic factors that impact our teeth and the need for antiracist collaboration to overcome barriers to care.
Oral Health Day attendees heard from a lively panel featuring providers, payers, government, and community members discussing their personal experiences and paths forward toward an improved oral health system.
Oral Health Day 2022 was the first to span two days. On the second day, NCOHC invited all participants to a collaborative workshop where we worked together to identify actionable policy solutions to oral health inequities.
Altogether, we were beyond impressed with the engagement and collaboration we witnessed over the course of Oral Health Day 2022, and we are excited to see that groundwork come to fruition in the coming years!
Student Partnerships Galore
NCOHC was fortunate to work with so many incredible student interns this year. You’ve probably already seen some of their work, and you will continue to see their content published in 2023.
Amber Moholehski – Amber returned to NCOHC after a prior internship through Campbell University. This past spring and summer, she worked on analyzing the existing landscape for dental assisting education in North Carolina, identifying key needs and options for future policy advocacy.
Sydney Patterson – Sydney is a public health student at East Carolina University. She joined NCOHC this past summer to write blog posts about various oral public health topics.
Parth Patel and Nidhi Oruganti – Parth and Nidhi worked together this past summer to explore North Carolina’s Medicaid system and innovative ways to incentivize more private practice providers to participate. Both Parth and Nidhi are undergraduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Bryan Francis – Bryan worked with us during her fall semester to expand upon Parth and Nidhi’s summer work. She focused on policy pathways to expand and enhance the existing dental safety net. Expect to see more from Bryan, Parth, and Nidhi’s work in 2023!
Campbell University 2022 Cohort – Every year NCOHC has the pleasure of working with a cohort of Campbell University public health students. This year, Austin Blake, Juniki Langle, Jordan Moseley, and Matthew Pacofsky worked with us to explore dentist-administered HPV vaccines.
In 2022, NCOHC and the CareQuest Institute for Oral Health fully launched the Community Oral Health Transformation (COrHT) Initiative in North Carolina. With 14 clinics onboarded into the program, we are putting resources into communities across our state to explore a value-based model of care. We hope this initiative sets the stage for evidence-based policy reform to structurally improve access and equity in oral health care for everyone in North Carolina.
Beginning in January 2022, NCOHC launched another initiative in partnership with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM). The Oral Health Transformation Initiative is currently in its second phase, where a task force is engaging in a 12-month evaluation of oral health transformation models from across the United States.
You can expect this task force to wrap up its work in 2023, with a full report on its findings to follow.
In a continued effort to better equip our existing oral health safety net providers to meet the comprehensive needs of the people they serve, NCOHC partnered with the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) to launch a mini-residency program.
This program will “train up” existing safety net dental teams, equipping providers with the confidence to offer more complex surgeries themselves rather than referring patients to specialists. For uninsured people and those with Medicaid insurance, accessible specialist care can be incredibly difficult to find.
In 2023, the first mini-residency cohort will begin their studies at MAHEC’s western North Carolina (WNC) facilities.
Patient Advocate Pilot
NCOHC solidified the framework for its Patient Advocate Pilot Program, which will fully launch in 2023. Across WNC, four practices have worked with NCOHC to prepare contracts and set the groundwork to hire “patient advocates,” employees who will help people navigate the system and access the care they need.
Wrapping up nearly two years of planning, NCOHC was able to launch a pilot Brush, Book, Bed program with five pediatric primary care practices in WNC. NCOHC and its partner organization, Reach out and Read, were able to provide thousands of books and oral health kits to these practices, which were trained to provide basic oral health education and fluoride varnishes to their early childhood patients.
The End of a Productive Legislative Biennium
2023 marks the beginning of a newly elected legislature in North Carolina. NCOHC is excited to build upon many legislative wins from the past two years, from Executive Order 193 authorizing dentists to join the COVID-19 vaccination effort to Session Law 2021-95 and the state budget’s extension of the North Carolina Medicaid for Pregnant Women (MPW) program.
In 2023, we look forward to working with legislative and advocacy partners to continue improving the oral health status of all in our state.
Looking Forward to 2023
As we reflect on 2022, we are humbled by the incredible partnerships and coalitions we have the opportunity to be a part of. Our goal is to create a North Carolina where everyone can access the care they deserve, and 2022 represented many steps in that direction.
There is still so much work to be done, but we are entering 2023 confident and energized for what is to come!
NCOHC, a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation, works to advance systems-level changes, improving the overall health and well-being of all North Carolinians by increasing access and equity in care. To stay up-to-date and get involved, join us today as a North Carolinian for Change.