For Immediate Release
Date: Jun 13th, 2013
Contact: Dr. William J. Moorhead
Preaching to the Choir
Since fourth grade, I’ve been a church musician. I was blessed with a grandmother who gave me piano lessons for twelve years, and through my college years, including dental school, I had the opportunity to serve in churches. We’ve all heard the expression “preaching to the choir,” and I realize that for anyone reading the President’s Message in KDA TODAY, you are already “in the choir.” Dentistry is important to you, and you take the time to keep informed. I thank you for that dedication.
Some dentists that particularly deserve thanks for their dedication include Dr. Jonathan Rich and Dr. Garth Bobrowski who attended the ADA’s Membership Recruitment and Retention Conference April 4th & 5th. Dr. Rich and Dr. Bobrowski have given a commitment this year to getting membership tools to our local societies. The KDA’s Biannual Leadership Conference will devote a sizeable amount of time to membership, and we are asking each society to send leaders who are willing to work at the local level with the tools Drs. Rich and Bobrowski brought back from Chicago.
Thanks are also extended to Dr. Mike Johnson for leading our Kentucky delegation to the ADA’s Washington Leadership Conference earlier this month. Besides me, Dr. Johnson was joined by Dr. Fred Howard, Dr. Ansley Depp and Dr. Sarah Humphries. Making the time to take our message to our legislators cannot be just an annual effort. To be effective, we must establish and maintain close relationships with our legislators at both the state and national levels. So going back to the earlier “choir” analogy, I’m asking my choir members to go out of their comfort zone. I’m asking you to make plans at your local society meetings to host events specifically for legislators. If we will make the time to create fundraising events where we can develop relationships, it will serve us well for years to come.
I also want to thank the dentists who devote their time to our annual meeting and the Council on Annual Sessions. Our annual meeting is our largest source of non-dues revenue. Put another way, when you as a member support our annual meeting, you both, enjoy the benefits of local CE for you and your team from some of the best continuing education sources in the nation, and you also help keep your annual dues lower. At our annual session last March, your House of Delegates approved a budget for 2014 that requires no dues increase, largely due to revenue from our annual meeting. A special thanks to Dr. Joe McCarty who served as Scientific Chair this year, and to Dr. Terry Norris who continues his dedication to the Council on Annual Sessions even after his busy year as President.
One of the biggest highlights of the year for anyone serving as President of the KDA is the honor of speaking at Commencement Ceremonies at our dental schools. I had the pleasure of speaking to the University of Kentucky’s graduating class in 2012 when Dr. Norris was out of the country, and was able to share that privilege with him on May 5th when he spoke at his alma mater in Lexington this year. One week later, I shared with the University of Louisville graduates how I could have never guessed at my hooding thirty-two years ago that I would again be able to share in this wonderful event. And with all of the promise these new graduates showed in their eyes and their smiles, it makes it easy to give back to our profession.
In my last message, I mentioned that I would be challenging you to become more involved as we endeavor to become more effective advocates for oral health. When issues regarding dentistry come before the public and before our legislators, there are many groups that want to portray themselves as experts. In February, we saw dental insurance lobbyists say they were trying to protect the public by opposing the KDA’s efforts to define “covered services” in dental insurance coverage. In late March when a Tulsa oral surgeon was found to have ignored proper infection control protocols, network news organizations chose not to interview representatives from the ADA.
At both the state and national level, organized dentistry is working this year to position ourselves more visibly before the public. One way we are working is to make legislators more aware of charitable dentistry events, including RAM Kentucky. When you plan to participate in dental mission projects, please contact me (cell phone 606-748-0950), Mike Porter or Dr. Mike Johnson for suggestions on how to be able to involve our legislators.
We are also in the early stages of two other projects, oral health initiatives we plan to use to better position dentists as the best advocates for oral health. The first is developing a better delivery system for oral care to elderly nursing home residents. There are approximately 1.3 million nursing home residents in our country, and most face barriers to accessing dental care. Under federal law, nursing facilities are required to provide dental care to their residents, including both routine and emergency care. There is a now a solution. Incurred Medical Expense (IME) billing can help long-term care residents get the dental treatment they need and help the dental practice get reimbursed for services. IME is routinely used for eyeglasses and hearing aids, but many dentists are not aware that it is also available for dental treatment. Nursing home residents who receive Social Security and are enrolled in KMAP are eligible for these services. And dentists can care for these patients without placing a burden on their practices. You’ll be hearing more about IME billing in the coming months, but if you would like to know more now, go to http://www.ada.org/news/6295.aspx
The other project is directed at setting up mechanisms to be able to effectively divert dental emergency patients away from hospital emergency rooms. A recent PEW report brought increased media attention to the increased usage of EDs for addressing the oral health needs of the underserved, though PEW did not offer innovative solutions. The ADA has seen models in Calhoun County, Michigan and Seattle, Washington that have significantly addressed this problem. If you personally have connections with hospitals in your area and would be willing to help us work on solutions that can work in Kentucky, I would appreciate hearing from you.
So for now, enjoy the upcoming summer months, and thanks for listening to my “sermon.” Before you leave for your relaxing days on the beach, order a copy of the book Take the Stairs – 7 Steps to Achieving True Success by Rory Vaden. It will change your life!