RD257 - Virginia Department of Health Oral Health Plan - October 2012

Executive Summary:
At the direction of Item 296 (F) in Chapter 3 of the Acts of the Assembly 2012 Special Session I, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), in collaboration with the Department of Medical Assistance Services, convened an advisory committee to assist in developing a comprehensive oral health plan focused on evaluating the “sustainability and efficiency of the current state-supported dental clinics operated by the department” as well as “the feasibility of transitioning the department’s current dental prevention/treatment model to a prevention-only model.”

The advisory committee met three times face-to-face, reviewing information on current VDH district and centrally-administered dental programs, including budgetary information, utilization of services at VDH dental clinics, and general demographics of patients seen within each service location. Available resources in each community, including the distribution of other safety net providers throughout the Commonwealth, were also considered.

Following a thorough review of this information, the advisory committee concluded that while the historical model of service delivery does not support the sustainability of VDH dental clinics without ongoing General Fund support, eliminating comprehensive dental services in all locations would pose a significant hardship to the health of patients in some communities. The advisory committee suggested that a “targeted regional approach” in which the individual needs and resources of each community were evaluated prior to making final program change decisions was necessary. Specifically, the committee made the following recommendations:

1. Adopt a targeted regional approach, individually evaluating the impact of closing dental clinics in each area, with consideration of the available resources to meet patient and community needs and the need to provide for transitional services in certain areas.

2. Evaluate and identify whether there are some areas of the state that are unlikely to be able to develop and sustain safety net dental services without external support.

3. Where appropriate and feasible, using a targeted regional approach, transition identified VDH public health dental clinics from a model of treatment and prevention to a prevention model.

4. Identify and develop metrics for the ongoing surveillance of oral health to assess the impact of shifting to a preventive health model.

5. Develop a communications plan.

6. Maintain ongoing stakeholder input into the transition to a prevention model.