RD287 - Virginia Department of Health Dental Transition Plan - October 2013
In 2011, VDH proposed a restructuring of dental clinical services as a cost reduction strategy and for the purpose of internal alignment with an evolving mission emphasizing more preventive and population based programs. In response to the final budget, as adopted by the General Assembly (GA) in 2012 and amended by Item 296, VDH created a dental stakeholder advisory committee from community individuals and organizations with an interest in oral health and access to dental care. VDH convened meetings with stakeholders on several occasions to discuss the issues of transitioning to a restructured dental program. A final report was submitted to the General Assembly titled “VDH Oral Health Plan October 2012” (RD 257).
The proposed restructuring required significant budget and staffing reductions for Community Health Services District dentists, who had been supported in part with State general funds. From the resulting savings, an expanded dental hygienist workforce would be established within the Office of Family Health Services (OFHS), managed by the Dental Health Program (DHP), and supported with general funds allocated to OFHS. These hygienists would be deployed throughout the State in areas of greatest need, working under the newly created “remote supervision” model of preventive services. Recognizing the complexity of this transition, the “VDH Oral Health Plan October 2012” report proposed the transition to a preventive focused model be granted an additional year for planning and initiation. This proposed extension of general fund support for dental clinics through FY 14 was passed in 2013 as budget amendment Item 296 #2.
VDH, the Virginia Dental Association leadership, the Virginia Oral Health Coalition and other stakeholders mutually agreed to request an additional year of funding, with the intent of exploring the level of potential local government support to maintain dental programs and for developing transition plans. Additionally, the additional year of funding would create a more realistic time frame in which an effective continuity of care methodology could be developed for each District to transition existing patient populations. The stakeholder group has reconvened on multiple occasions in 2013 as directed in the Item 296 #2 language, to continue the work of strategically transitioning VDH dental programs to preventive focused programs, while considering the impact on localities and assuring the recommendations of the 2012 GA report are implemented.