KDA Today

KDA Today

For Immediate Release

Date: Oct 18th, 2011
Contact: Dr. Kevin Wall
Phone: 800-292-1855
Email: info@kyda.org

Why We Shouldn't Lose Sight of Our Purpose...

Summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, my reign is about half done and so am I.  The summer has been busy, especially dealing with the newly revamped Medicaid system.

 

During all of the back and forth dialogue working on the Medicaid response, it occurred to me that too often we lose sight of the purpose of why we are doing what we are doing.  As dentists and other medical providers we are entrusted to improve the health and overall well being of our patients.  The change of the state legislation is to pretext the rights and well being of the citizens of the commonwealth.  Since our goals are similar, a spirit of cooperation between these entities would foster positive results for both groups.

 

In my local paper there have recently been two disturbing headlines.  The first is that the two most common reasons for a visit to the emergency room are dental-related.  This was also supported by a recent study in Louisville.  The second involves the death of a 24-year-old man from an infection that began from an abscessed tooth and traveled to his brain.

 

In this time of financial crisis we are trying to save our taxpayers money by trying to cut costs.  One of these excessive costs is the overuse of emergency rooms for non-emergency situations.  I recently had an opportunity to meet with the governor and asked how the new MCO’s are going to save the state money.  His answer was that these agencies are more adept at managing patients than the state.  For example, instead of a patient going to the ER for a toothache, they would be triaged at some center and then sent to an office where their needs could be met in a more efficient and economical way.  This is a better business model in theory, but time will tell if it really is a practical solution.

 

The second headline is the one more disturbing to me.  In a large city like Cincinnati, with plenty of providers and access to care, how does a young, healthy person die of a toothache?  He had been to the ER where he received prescriptions for antibiotic and pain medication.  He was unemployed and had no insurance, so he bought only the pain medication, which according to the article was $400, while the antibiotic was $27.  This story demonstrates how precious, yet tenuous life is.  We should strive to make sure this story is not repeated anywhere in our state or our country. 

 

I do not pretend to have all or any of the answers to solve these problems, but with an open dialogue between all parties we can come up with viable solutions.  We recently activated Capwiz, the KDA’s new legislative advocacy program, and sent out our first Legislative Alert and asked everyone to contact the Governor.  It worked very well, and I expect it to be a valuable resource in the future.  (Please check out Capwiz, located in our website’s Professional Portal under Legislative Issues.)  We also are repeating our leadership conference in November and I hope that each component recognizes the importance of this and sends two young leaders to the conference.  We can improve our organization by getting more people involved and having better continuity from year to year.  I ask all of our members to become more involved.  You can make a difference in somebody’s life.  Together, we can become a driving force that will affect change in our community, in our state, in our nation, and in our world.

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