This week was National Health Center Week, which is an annual celebration with the goal of raising awareness about the mission and accomplishments of America’s health centers over the past five decades. The Safety Net Solutions team has partnered with hundreds of health center dental programs over the last 12 years on improving access to care, financial viability and quality outcomes. We get to see first hand what a crucial role health centers play in our healthcare system, and it is a privilege to be a very small part of the work they do in their communities to meet the oral health needs of underserved populations. Each team member's reflection on what working with health centers means to them is included below.
"Talk about full circle! Back in 1979 when I was asked if I would like to become a dental director at a health center, I had 3 questions: 1) What's a health center?, 2) What does a dental director do?, and 3) How do you get paid? Do the math....39 years later and I marvel at the fact that what I didn't even know existed has become a part of my heart and my soul. Having had the opportunity and honor to work with health centers all of those years as the dental director, a consultant and a board member of NNOHA has carved a niche in my life that's irreplaceable. Nothing I have done in relation to the world of dentistry has been more important or more meaningful in the years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes than the time I have spent in health centers and most especially the time spent with the people who staff them and the patients they treat. What a gift they have been to me and my family, and me and my staff. So, thank you for all the enrichment that you have contributed to my life and I look forward to many more years spent in partnership with, in support of and absolute belief of, Community Health Centers." - Dr. Mark Doherty, SNS Executive Director
"Millions of Americans do not receive regular dental care because of lack of insurance and limited financial resources. Community Health Centers play a crucial role in maintaining and expanding the dental safety net. It is my privilege and honor to help health center dental programs improve their operations so they can increase access to care and positively impact the oral health of their patients." -Dori Bingham, SNS Program Manager
"Interacting with our health center clients is what I love most about my job because I get to witness how passionate they are about serving the underserved. Each person is committed to improving their dental program so they can meet the oral health needs of even more patients. Being able to walk alongside them and support them throughout the improvement process is such an honor." -Caroline Darcy, SNS Project Manager
"Dental programs within Community Health Centers (CHCs) are such an important part of the oral health safety net! They provide access to care for people living at or below the federal poverty guidelines and are either underinsured or uninsured, and who would likely not have access otherwise. Working with Safety Net Solutions I have the wonderful opportunity to partner with CHC dental program leaders and managers. It is really exciting to see the data results of our clients and know that we played a small role in helping the dental program increase their ability to provide more access to more patients."-Laura Skaret, SNS Project Manager
"My dad became CEO of a health center when I was in high school, and I knew pretty early on that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I never anticipated being involved in the oral health side of things, but I am so glad this is where my journey has taken me! I am honored to work for Safety Net Solutions and for the opportunity to partner with organizations that are making such significant contributions to the communities they serve. Whether you are a front desk team member, a dental assistant, a dental director or a CEO, you are a true rock star and should be extremely proud of the career you have chosen."-Da-Nell Pedersen, SNS Manager Special Projects