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What Does Hamilton County's Oral Health Coalition Plan To Do?

Tana Weingartner
Patti and Bootsy Collins speak about the importance of oral health to overall good health during a Hamilton County commissioners meeting. They began actively promoting good oral health following the death of their nephew to an untreated oral infection.

Poor oral health continues to be a problem that can lead to more serious health concerns. The Hamilton County Oral Health Coalition was created in 2017 to address and improve overall oral hygiene and it's now out with its strategic plan.

The coalition, which is comprised of representatives from various health agencies and dental clinics, has a three-goal plan:

  1. Improved access to oral health
  2. Fewer people seeking oral care from the emergency room
  3. The county driving integration of oral health and medical healthcare

Coalition Coordinator Chuck Madden, DDS, says these goals are attainable and the "heart and soul" of the plan.
"Goals that, once achieved, really will move the needle, measurably improving the oral health of every citizen of Hamilton County, especially our health-disparate communities, those with special needs and those who fall within the gaping cracks between the insured, insufficient reimbursements of Medicaid and the lack of Medicare coverage for oral health at all."

Children of people who fall within those gaps also suffer, Madden says.

In fact, "nearly 40% of Hamilton County residents have not seen a dentist in well over two years," according to Madden. "This is partly due to access issues - providing oral health in the right place at the right time in the right way. The strategic plan addresses that."

The coalition aims to reach its stated goals by, among many recommendations: pushing providers and legislators to change the way Medicaid reimbursements are handled; supporting and promoting good oral health and how to seek appropriate oral healthcare via promotional campaigns; and encouraging medical programs to incorporate and integrate oral health treatment.

The coalition's work is funded by UC Health as part of the sale agreement with the county for Drake Hospital in 2011. Hamilton County commissioners are expected to pass a resolution adopting the strategic plan in the coming weeks.

Bootsy and Patti Collins are the public face of the coalition, driven by their work promoting good oral health through the Kyle Willis Oral Care Program. The couple started the program after losing their nephew Kyle Willis, a 24-year-old single father, to an untreated dental infection.