There’s a great quote by the writer Ryunosuke Satoro:
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
As I reflect on my first year with the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (FHLI) leading the North Carolina Oral Health Collaborative (NCOHC), those words could not ring truer.
In 2019, the NCOHC achieved some truly amazing outcomes. However, at the center of our impact is you! Through the dedication, perseverance, and passion of our partners, we have advanced innovative policies, sponsored educational opportunities for providers and policymakers, and empowered the next generation of oral health advocates.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
In this re-launch of the official NCOHC newsletter, we’ll share some 2019 highlights from the front lines of our collective effort to increase oral health access and equity in North Carolina. You’ll see the impact of our re-invigorated work advocating for systems change, and be introduced to our new staff, Brady and Kelsey, as well as our newly redesigned website, which launches today!
More than anything, though, I hope that you will be inspired to act — to join us in our work to ensure that access to optimal oral health care is a right, not a privilege, for ALL North Carolinians.
Together, we are an ocean, and I cannot wait to see how the waves break in 2020.
Dr. Zachary Brian
NCOHC has a new look!
In 2019 NCOHC joined all FHLI programs in a strategic realignment and rebranding to emphasize our common mission to fuel innovation and promote “whole body” health throughout North Carolina.
Central to this effort is today’s launch of a reimagined OralHealthNC.org— the online home of NCOHC. In 2020 the site will serve as a go-to resource for providers, policymakers, and the public with the continued development of a brand-new online Resource Center.
Click here to check it out!
In 2019 we welcomed Ben Popkin, JD, MPH, as Political Strategist for FHLI and NCOHC. Leveraging strong relationships with North Carolina legislators, policymakers and influencers, Ben played an integral role in advancing NCOHC-sponsored regulatory change.
We also laid the groundwork to effectively execute our Strategic Plan with two new hires. In the months ahead, we hope you will have the opportunity to meet these talented and passionate advocates for oral health care in North Carolina!
Kelsey Ross Dew, MPH joined FHLI in 2019 as Program Coordinator for NCOHC. In this role, Kelsey is responsible for project management, ensuring that NCOHC initiatives and events run efficiently and achieve designated objectives. Kelsey is the primary point-of-contact for NCOHC partners, working to effectively engage the community and promote improved oral health outcomes for all North Carolinians.
Brady Blackburn, MA joined FHLI in 2019 as Communications Associate and Content Marketing Specialist for NCOHC. Brady brings focused experience in nonprofit and cause-based marketing, with an emphasis on content marketing, social media management, and videography.
With input from expert oral health and policy advisers, the Collaborative Acceleration Team (CAT), NCOHC developed a five-year strategic plan, setting ambitious goals and identifying actions NCOHC will take to advance oral health access and equity in North Carolina.
With the generous, continued support of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and The Duke Endowment, FHLI’s NCOHC secured additional funding to power our work for the next three years.
Advocacy and Policy Change
NCOHC hosted Oral Health Day 2019, our signature advocacy event focusing oral health influencers and community partners on our collective agenda, outside of the General Assembly. This year’s event drew a record number of participants, helping to establish and nurture relationships with legislators who are key to advancing our policy priorities.
NCOHC co-sponsored a regulatory change with the North Carolina Dental Society (NCDS) that will increase access to preventive care among North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations. This progressive action lays the groundwork for successive steps to advance oral health access and equity in 2020 and beyond.
We concluded our two-year mini-grant initiative, supporting seven community partner grantees in Phase 1 and six in Phase 2, developing strategic change agents for oral health across North Carolina.
NCOHC directly funded leadership development for dental safety-net providers and administrators, sponsoring attendance to the National Network for Oral Health Access (NNOHA) annual conference and NNOHA Sealants Improvement Collaborative.
NCOHC’s director led more than 40 workshops and presentations across the state, speaking on topics including the oral-systemic connection, integrative practice, pediatric oral health, advocacy, and teledentistry. If you are interested in an NCOHC-led presentation or workshop for your next event or conference, please contact us today.
NCOHC led 11 providers and policymakers on an educational trip to California to learn firsthand about the state’s Virtual Dental Home model—an innovative approach to teledentistry. Participants returned to North Carolina energized to design a state-specific model for telehealth’s advancement in oral health care delivery.
We launched an engagement series for university students in non-oral-health-related fields to foster leadership in oral health advocacy and empower the next generation of oral health champions in North Carolina.
In March 2019, we co-hosted an event with DHHS’s Oral Health Section Assistant Surgeon General and Rear Admiral Timothy Ricks, DMD, MPH, FICD, to showcase innovative approaches to collaboration and effective systems change advancing oral health in North Carolina.
From the NCOHC Blog
Building Oral Health Champions: Reflecting on a Semester with Campbell University Public Health Students
“The more questions I asked, the more interested I became,” said Devin Olden to his fellow public health students at Campbell University as he spoke on the importance of oral health to overall health.
While equality means treating everyone the same, equity means providing everyone with the resources and assistance they need to achieve successful outcomes. Equal treatment is important, but in a world where we all are different, with different experiences, abilities, disabilities, and resources available for our use, we inherently need different things in order to be successful.
Systemic Barriers and Oral Health Equity in North Carolina
These systemic barriers to oral health care don’t occur in a vacuum. They compound, making access harder and harder. Imagine the difficulty of seeing a dentist if you live in a rural community and must schedule an hour-long trip to access care. Now imagine how much harder that would be to fit into your schedule if you are working two or three jobs to make ends meet.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and stay tuned for our upcoming launch of the NCOHC Facebook page!
Please forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues, and if you haven’t already, sign up to become an NCOHC member today! (It’s free.)
If you or your partner organizations are advancing oral health access and equity in innovative ways, we would love to hear from you! Please contact Brady to possibly be featured in a future newsletter within our Partners of Impact section.