By Alicia Whatley

Kentucky Oral Health Coalition members and oral health stakeholders from across the state came together for the 2019 Kentucky Oral Health Coalition annual meeting on Friday, December 6. We kicked off the meeting with an outstanding keynote speaker, Rebekah Fiehn. Rebekah is the Healthcare Data Exchange Specialist at the DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement. Rebekah spoke about teledentistry on a national level and the trends the oral health community is seeing on the use of technology in practice across the nation.

In addition to our keynote speaker, a panel of four oral health professionals were able to answer questions and discuss the teledentistry movement and what it means for Kentucky. The panel members were Dr. William Lee, immediate Past President of the Kentucky Dental Association, Dr. Julie McKee, Kentucky’s Dental Director with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Dr. Jerry Caudill, State Dental Director at Avesis, and Jennifer Hasch, legislative chair and head delegate at the Kentucky Dental Hygiene Association. Read more about teledentistry.

Mahak Kalra, Policy Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates, presented legislative and budget policies of interest to KOHC members followed by voting from members. KOHC is supportive of the Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children health policy and budget priorities, including enacting a tax on e-cigarettes, prohibiting tobacco sale to anyone under age 21, investing in tobacco cessation and prevention programs, strengthening healthy eating and drinking standards in licensed child care centers, and boosting investment in Family Resource and Youth Service Centers. Learn more about the 2020 Blueprint agenda and find resources.

Laura Wince and Kara Farris of Delta Dental provided an overview of the collaboration with the Kosair Charities® Face It Movement, which aims to engage, equip, and educate Kentucky’s oral health community in recognizing and reporting child abuse and neglect.

Jennifer Hasch presented to the group about the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN), introducing the network as a resource for dental professionals and providing insight into the importance of networking nationwide for oral health initiatives.

Mahak Kalra closed the meeting with an open discussion of member updates, a recap of the accomplishments of the KOHC in 2019 and a statement about the next steps for this group in 2020.

Thank you to Avesis and Passport Health Plan for sponsoring KOHC’s annual meeting. Thank you to our presenters, KOHC members, and guests who made our 2019 annual meeting a success!