Health Partners of Western Ohio
Health Partners participated in the National Network for Oral Health Access's (NNOHA's) Oral Health Core Clinical Competency Pilot Project in 2013. The goal of the project was to adopt and implement HRSA’s oral health competencies using a sustainable-systems approach that results in integrating oral health and primary care through interprofessional collaborative practice, and, ultimately, to increase integration of oral health care into primary health care. Read an interview in the NNOHA winter newsletter (see page 10).
"It’s a godsend. They have excellent doctors and staff."
"Christy," quoted above, went several years without dental care because of lack of insurance, and now, thanks to the care provided by the staff at Health Partners, she is ready to receive her partial dentures.
Health Partners of Western Ohio, formerly known as Allen County Health Partners, is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) located in Lima, Ohio. A partner of St. Rita’s Medical Center, the dental clinic at Health Partners is the only dental safety net facility in an eight-county radius. It provides oral health services to individuals in the area who have low incomes and are uninsured, and it has significantly impacted the lives of many.
The dental clinic at Health Partners began providing oral health services in 2005, filling a void in the community. Since its inception, the clinic has had over 40,000 dental visits. In 2009 alone, the clinic served approximately 5,500 individuals with 12,175 visits.
Currently, there are two full-time dentists, three part-time dentists, six dental assistants, three dental hygienists, and two front desk assistants on staff in the clinic. The dental director, Dr. Paul Lyons, has over 40 years’ experience in dental care. He treats patients on a daily basis and ensures that high standards are maintained throughout the clinic.
Health center chief executive officer Janis Sunderhaus describes the clinic’s oral health services as “part of an integrated healthcare system." She says that the dental clinic is unique in that “every patient seen by a medical provider is also encouraged to establish their dental home here, as well. For example, we also track the number of patients with diabetes that have had preventive dental care.” She believes that the oral health services provided by Health Partners “are vital to all of our patients‘ overall health.”
The dental sealant program at Health Partners has provided care for area children who otherwise would not have received much-needed preventive treatment. To provide this mobile care, the clinic uses a 30-foot fully equipped dental van owned by St. Rita’s.
The Health Partners sealant van serves children in second and third grades and provides sealants on 6-year molars. These children are seen again in sixth and seventh grades, when they receive sealants on 12-year molars. In 2009, the program screened approximately 750 children, 484 children received sealants, and 1,799 sealants were placed. Children who are found to have cavities while being screened in the van are given an appointment to address all treatment issues. Many children served by the sealant van have never received oral health care.
Satellite dental services provided at local Head Start programs in Lima, Kenton, and Tipp City have also been crucial to the preventive care stressed by oral health professionals at Health Partners. Approximately 600 children are enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start in these locations. Children receive an oral examination, a cleaning, and a fluoride treatment. Staff teach the children about the importance of toothbrushing and give each child a toothbrush. Many of these children have never visited a dentist.
Infants, children, and adolescents ages 9 months to 14 years, as well as adults with developmental disabilities, receive a fluoride varnish application when they visit a health professional at Health Partners. During these visits they also receive oral health education, a caries risk assessment, an oral health screening, and a referral to a center dentist to establish a dental home.
Health Partners is proud of its dedication to patient-centered services that are integrated among its medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and alternative health services areas. The center offers comprehensive care to help ensure a better quality of life.