Health and Family Services Cabinet
DPH, University of Kentucky Honored for Dental Partnership
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) and the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Dentistry recently received national recognition for their collaboration to improve the dental health status of residents across the commonwealth.
State health officials were on hand in Boston recently to receive the American Public Health Association (APHA)/GlaxoSmithKline Partnership for Healthy Children Award for the Kentucky Dental Public Health Partnership. The honor was presented at the APHA’s 13th annual meeting.
“This award is the culmination of the tremendous efforts of the staff at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and our oral health program here at the cabinet,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Mark D. Birdwhistell. “We’re extremely proud of the Dental Public Health Partnership. It is an important piece in our mission to improve the overall health status of our fellow Kentuckians.”
Steve Davis, M.D., deputy commissioner of DPH, accepted the award on behalf of the cabinet. He was joined by Sharon Turner, dean of the UK College of Dentistry, and Raynor Mullins, former division chief of public health dentistry at UK.
“This award, made possible through the American Public Health Association and GlaxoSmithKline, is a reaffirmation of the tremendous amount of work the College of Dentistry has done in the communities of the commonwealth – particularly the rural communities – to give children a chance for a better, healthy life start,” Turner said in an acceptance speech at the ceremony.
The award recognizes and supports community-based collaborative efforts to improve the health of children.
“We are focused on educating our colleagues, stakeholders and the public at large about the importance of dental health,” said James Cecil, administrator of DPH’s oral health program and a UK College of Dentistry faculty member. “One of the largest health problems facing the commonwealth is lack of access to dental care. We believe this collaboration is an important step in breaking down those barriers.”
The dental public health partnership began collaborating in 1996 when UK and DPH partnered to improve oral health access for financially disadvantaged children.
By 2005, the collaborative approach had evolved into a statewide oral health initiative that has served more than 31,000 state residents; produced numerous community-based service projects; and implemented the school-based dental sealant program, Seal Kentucky. The partnership also established Kids Smile, a program that trains public health nurses, school nurses and nursing assistants to screen children up to age 5, apply fluoride varnish, provide oral health education to caregivers and give referrals for follow-up treatment with a dental practitioner.