For Immediate Release
Date: Feb 20th, 2014
Contact: Dr. John Thompson
Go Tell It on the Mountains
On Monday December 9th Governor Steve Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers hosted SOAR (Shaping Our Appalachian Region) KENTUCKY at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville. The summit focused on the issues of unemployment and economic uncertainty that is threatening the small communities of this storied region. Governor Beshear said, “…for several decades, the region has seen a decline in growth and development, hampered by a lack of infrastructure and other resources that communities need to grow and thrive. We know that government, alone, cannot solve these issues… we believe that to make real progress in Eastern Kentucky, we need the input, collaboration and involvement from the people that live and work hard there every day.”
Kentucky Mountain Dental Society President, Dr. David Narramore, and Past President, Dr. Bill Collins, were two of the more than seventeen hundred participants in this conclave. Congressman Rogers talked about how the people of this region have proved to be so resilient. They have led the fight against prescription drug abuse and worked as a region to clean up the hillsides and streams. He said, “I am confident that together, we will rise above these new challenges we face.”
Dr. Bill Collins credited Dr. Rangel with the best summation from the Breakout Health Session led by Dr. Nikki Stone of Hazard. Dr. Bill reported, “Dr. Rangel from the Pike County Health Department stood to the occasion. In his foreign accent he quickly said, ‘I am not a native of Eastern Kentucky, but I have been here for twenty years. What is happening here is and what we need is funding. We have smart people, we can take care of each other and ourselves, but they have taken our money, our way to produce money. That is the problem; without being able to generate money we have to layoff these smart people, that's where our problem is. We don't need you to educate us; we know everything that is wrong with our health, but without money, we can't fix it.’ The communities of Eastern Kentucky have seen more than six thousand miners lose their jobs in the past two years with the continuing decline of coal as an economic resource.”
It was against this backdrop that the Kentucky Mountain Dental Society held its December meeting on Saturday, December 14th at the spacious and magnificent oral surgery office of Dr. Chad Street in Pikeville. It was seemingly the unspoken theme of gathering information on trends in dentistry that was the focus of this dental society meeting. The Kentucky Mountain Dental Society had invited KDA President, Dr. B.J. Moorhead, KDA Contract Lobbyist, Libby Milligan, Medicaid Dental Director, Dr. Ken Rich, State Dental Director for the Kentucky Department of Public Health, Dr. Julie McKee, UKCD Dean, Dr. Sharon Turner, Dr. Raynor Mullins and me as KDA Editor to provide commentary and discussion at this meeting.
Having provided this list of guest speakers and knowing that Dr. Andy Elliott and Dr. Al Pelphrey would be present this Saturday morning you would expect that KMDS President Narramore would have his hands full with this agenda. He did; but he was able to allow for comments and spirited discussion that began at 8 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. All of this and a very informative CE program on head and neck infections, including medical emergencies, presented by Dr. Chad Street was pigeon-holed into a great day to be inside.
It is unquestionable that there are significant challenges facing dentists who practice in our Appalachian regions. In order to deal with the challenges, it is also imperative that solutions must evolve from accurate information. Members of the Kentucky Mountain Dental Society may have left their meeting for holiday parties on information overload, as I did. It was very significant that this meeting was also attended by State Representative Leslie Combs and Health Department Director Dr. Rangel. This mountain region is home to six of the most influential leaders in our state government and it is obvious that KMDS members know well, all of the political players. Lobbyist, Libby Milligan provided an excellent report on current political movement and the need for KDPAC and ADA PAC support.
Dr. Mullins provided new and dramatic data that exposes serious flaws in the Medicaid-managed care model as well as possible solutions. Dr. Rich was able to brief the attendees on how outcome assessments are changing the models for reimbursements as well as the influence of evidence-based dentistry protocols. KDA President Moorhead provided a national overview of trends in dentistry from the ADA’s new economic research data. This provoked a lot of questions and reinforced many of the trends that have been magnified in this region by the economic downturn. Dr. McKee was able to bring the members up to date on how the public health hygienists can integrate with health departments and the requirements for this designation. I was asked to comment on the Health Care Exchange, the ACA and the Medicaid practice model that Sarrell Dental from Alabama is going to bring to Kentucky. All of these issues provoked spirited discussion and productive dialogue.
While the Kentucky Mountain Dental Society may have sustained significant membership loss in the past few years, it is quite obvious that the remaining membership and the leadership in place are not going to allow the trend to continue. This meeting is just one example of a very proactive approach to multiple problems. There was no “woe is me” in this group; the attitude was about finding ways to deal with the things they can’t change and how to manage the issues that can be affected by their actions. If this meeting is an example of problem solving, this dental society is moving in the right directions and the simple value of belonging to a component dental society with such a “can do” attitude will not be lost on the members who have fallen away.