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Nursing Home Project Update

Thank you Tammy for providing us with an update on what's happening with the Nursing Home Project! We're excited to have dental hygienists in Utah on board with this amazing project, which has helped hygienists practice in new settings, as well as obtain a lot of research on the need for this vulnerable population.

The Utah Dental Hygienists’ Association (UDHA) in collaboration with the Senior Charity Care Foundation (SCCF) received a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Civil Money Penalty Fund (CMPF) for Certified Nursing Homes to provide free comprehensive dental care to nursing home residents. This partnership enabled the UDHA and the SCCF mobile dental clinic to bring their services to residents in ten nursing homes in Salt Lake County and surrounding areas. Care is provided directly at the facilities using mobile dental equipment, making it convenient and eliminating the need to be transported elsewhere for the dental care residents deserve and need.

In the first year of the grant (2017-18), one week was set aside for each facility each month. Multiple UDHA member dental hygienists, along with the SCCF restorative team, assessed and treated as many residents as possible in that week. Follow-up visits were provided by the SCCF restorative team on a rotating basis every few weeks after that initial week. Over 200 residents were served that year and that success helped the grant renew for a second year for 2018-19. In this second year of the grant, one of the goals was to have more of a presence in the nursing homes with more frequent visits to serve more residents. Residents are now seen on an ongoing basis and not limited to that one week. One dental hygienist (sometimes two) visits each facility on an as needed basis alternating with the SCCF restorative team and rotating visits to each nursing home regularly. This keeps a dental provider in each facility more often to address patient needs. The hygiene team is able to practice at the “top of their licenses” at these facilities providing all dental hygiene procedures including scaling and root planing and placement of silver diamine fluoride (SDF) along with preventive services such as prophylaxis. When the dentist is not present exams are conducted through teledentistry.

Nursing home residents are more medically compromised than the general population. Most lack dental insurance and can’t afford care and many are unable to adequately brush their own teeth. The facilities and residents are very thankful and thrilled with the dental care being provided by the hygiene and restorative teams and there is such a need. This grant project is just one example of how the passing of SB177 has had an impact on this underserved population.

To learn more about this project contact Tammy Lyn Genesse, RDH, BSDH, hygiene coordinator, CMPF oral care grant for nursing homes at tgenesse42@hotmail.com or 801-651-6501.

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