Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs) are a complement of Community Health Workers who focus on oral health. Identifying annual or semiannual dental visits as an opportunity to connect vulnerable and low-income individuals, including veterans and persons experiencing homelessness, with available community resources, Zufall Health Center is leading this pilot program to introduce CDHCs in the state. Zufall Health Center is employing two of the first certified dental assistants who have completed CDHC training with the American Dental Association (ADA) in its dental practice, where they will provide oral health education, preventive care and basic dental care to low-income residents and veterans, while also providing wholistic support in navigating the complexities of the healthcare system and connecting them with available social service and other resources for which they are eligible. An initial focus of the CDHCs will be addressing patients’ vaccine hesitancy. In a second phase of this work, Zufall Health Center will design an online CDHC certification program using the ADA curriculum and build awareness of the program to identify potential students. Through this work, Zufall and its partners will make care more readily accessible for veterans and other underserved communities. On a broader level, this program will provide an approach for expanding the Community Health Worker model to dental care, and build a pipeline for a workforce of skilled dental case managers and patient navigators in the state.
Dental Program Coordinator