ADHA Access March_2014 : Page 16

“ We can go into the schools with this equipment, and the parents don’t have to miss work because this group that we are treating … they need every penny that they can get, and if they miss work to take their child into the dentist, it’s just one more hurdle that they have to overcome. You know you’ve got to sort of choose between going to the dentist and making rent.” ²6DQGUD+ROL¿HOG&#0f;5'+ nspiration can come from anywhere, can strike at any moment. For many, it’s common to hear words of encour-agement from a close friend or relative. But rarely does a life altering moment occur in the midst of a show at a concert hall. But that’s exactly where 6DQGUD+ROL¿HOG&#0f;5'+ , was inspired to become a dental hygienist. “I just happened to run into someone who was in their third year of dental school and I had never heard of a GHQWDOK\JLHQLVWEHIRUH&#0f;´+ROL¿HOGVDLG³,KDGQRWVHHQD dentist until I was 20 years old. I’m one of seven kids, so we couldn’t afford to go to the dentist — so that’s where the inspiration came.” It may come as a shock to some, but the world of RUDOKHDOWKFDUHZDVQHZWR+ROL¿HOG6KHZDVFXULRXVWR explore this new, potential career, and the timing couldn’t be any better — she was already enrolled in school, but was stuck, looking for a calling. “I had been in college at a university for about three years and had changed my major probably about four different times because nothing felt right,” she said. “This ZDVVRPHWKLQJWKDW&#0f;IRUWKH¿UVWWLPH&#0f;,¿JXUHGRXWµWKLVLV exactly what I want to do.’” Being one of seven children and unable to see a dental K\JLHQLVWDVDFKLOGPRWLYDWHG+ROL¿HOGWRSXUVXHDFDUHHU in public health. And, as would become the case with PRVWRI+ROL¿HOG¶VMRXUQH\&#0f;KHUSDWKWRRNVRPHXQH[ -pected turns. 7KH¿UVWKXUGOHZDVWRJHWLQWRGHQWDOK\JLHQHVFKRRO — the program she tried to enter had a two and a half year wait, but she didn’t let that stop her. I Being one of seven children and unable to see a dental hygienist as a child PRWLYDWHG+ROL¿HOGWRSXUVXHDFDUHHULQ public health. And, as would become the FDVHZLWKPRVWRI+ROL¿HOG¶VMRXUQH\&#0f;KHU path took some unexpected turns. ³,¿JXUHG&#1e;ZK\QRWJHWLQWKH¿HOGQRZ"6HHZKDWLW¶V DOODERXW&#1e;PDNHVXUHLW¶VZKDW,ZDQWHGWRGR´ +ROL¿HOG¶V¿UVWMREZDVDGHQWDODVVLVWLQJMREDWD )HGHUDOO\4XDOL¿HG+HDOWK&HQWHU&#0b;)4+&&#0c;$WWKHWLPHVKH didn’t realize it, but she was already working in public health, even before taking a single course. ³,WZDVWKDW¿UVWMRE&#0f;DVVLVWLQJZLWKSHRSOHWKDWZHUH at a disadvantage either monetarily, or through transpor-tation or location. You could see how devastating it was to them. And that the children suffered, because the parents couldn’t afford it or didn’t know any better, they didn’t know if anything was available in their area.” ,PPHGLDWHO\&#0f;+ROL¿HOGEHJDQWRGUDZSDUDOOHOVWRKHU RZQVLWXDWLRQ&#0f;DQGKHUSDWKZDVVHWEHIRUHKHU7KDW¿UVW job as a dental assistant still inspires and motivates her. “I was a person of need growing up, and didn’t know anything about dental, so that is really where it came from — just working there and seeing how great the need was, for education and for treatment.” +ROL¿HOGQRZZRUNVDW&2075($²DIDFLOLW\LQ0LV -souri that offers a wide array of health care solutions. &2075($EHJDQDVDEHKDYLRUDOKHDOWKFHQWHU&#0f;GHDOLQJ with mental disabilities and other mental health issues. 2YHUWLPHWKHSURJUDPH[SDQGHG&#0f;DQGUHFHQWO\&2075($ ZDVGHVLJQDWHGZLWK)4+&VWDWXV7KHGHQWDOKHDOWKSRU -WLRQZDVUHFHQWO\HQDFWHGLQ6HSWHPEHU
&#0f;DQGRIIHUHG +ROL¿HOGDZD\WRUHDFKRXWWRWKRVHLQQHHG ³0\XOWLPDWHJRDOLVWRIRFXVRQSUHJQDQWZRPHQ ZLWKLQWKH:RPHQ&#0f;,QIDQWVDQG&KLOGUHQ&#0b;:,&&#0c;V\VWHP DQG0HGLFDLG&#0f;WRPDNHVXUHWKDWWKH\KDYHDOOWKHLU WUHDWPHQWGRQH&#0f;´VKHVDLG³0\JRDOLVWRJHWDOORIWKHLU treatment done before their insurance runs out, because typically they have it for about six weeks after they give birth.” 7UHDWLQJSUHJQDQWZRPHQLVYLWDO&#0f;+ROL¿HOGVDLG&#0f;EH -cause expecting mothers are often the ones who do most RIWKHRUDOKHDOWKFDUHDWKRPH(GXFDWLQJPRWKHUVDV soon as possible helps to ensure that their children will have great oral health. “The mothers are concerned for their well-being, ” she said. “They’re concerned for their babies’ well-being, and if we can tell them things that are going to help with the babies’ future, especially in the area of oral health, I think that is the way to do it. You start with mom and it sort of starts to trickle down.” +ROL¿HOGHYHQKDVZRUGVRIHQFRXUDJHPHQWIRUPRWK -ers who already have children, children she also helps ZKHQWKH\DUHDW&2075($ “I was telling one of the mothers today, the more you FDQSXW\RXU¿QJHUVLQWKHUHWRORRNDURXQG&#0f;WKHEHWWHU&#0f; because once they get a little bit older and they go to see the dentist, it will be just like any other day.” 16 MAR 2014 access

working

Josh Snyder


“ We can go into the schools with this equipment, and the parents don’t have to miss work because this group that we are treating … they need every penny that they can get, and if they miss work to take their child into the dentist, it’s just one more hurdle that they have to overcome. You know you’ve got to sort of choose between going to the dentist and making rent.”
—Sandra Holifield, RDH

Inspiration can come from anywhere, can strike at any moment. For many, it's common to hear words of encouragement from a close friend or relative. But rarely does a life altering moment occur in the midst of a show at a concert hall.

But that's exactly where Sandra Holifield, RDH, was inspired to become a dental hygienist.

"I just happened to run into someone who was in their third year of dental school and I had never heard of a dental hygienist before," Holifield said. "I had not seen a dentist until I was 20 years old. I'm one of seven kids, so we couldn't afford to go to the dentist — so that's where the inspiration came."

It may come as a shock to some, but the world of oral health care was new to Holifield. She was curious to explore this new, potential career, and the timing couldn't be any better — she was already enrolled in school, but was stuck, looking for a calling.

"I had been in college at a university for about three years and had changed my major probably about four different times because nothing felt right," she said. "This was something that, for the first time, I figured out 'this is exactly what I want to do.'"

Being one of seven children and unable to see a dental hygienist as a child motivated Holifield to pursue a career in public health. And, as would become the case with most of Holifield's journey, her path took some unexpected turns.

The first hurdle was to get into dental hygiene school — the program she tried to enter had a two and a half year wait, but she didn't let that stop her.

"I figured; why not get in the field now? See what it's all about; make sure it's what I wanted to do."

Holifield's first job was a dental assisting job at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). At the time she didn't realize it, but she was already working in public health, even before taking a single course.

"It was that first job, assisting with people that were at a disadvantage either monetarily, or through transportation or location. You could see how devastating it was to them. And that the children suffered, because the parents couldn't afford it or didn't know any better, they didn't know if anything was available in their area."

Immediately, Holifield began to draw parallels to her own situation, and her path was set before her. That first job as a dental assistant still inspires and motivates her.

"I was a person of need growing up, and didn't know anything about dental, so that is really where it came from — just working there and seeing how great the need was, for education and for treatment."

Holifield now works at COMTREA — a facility in Missouri that offers a wide array of health care solutions. COMTREA began as a behavioral health center, dealing with mental disabilities and other mental health issues. Over time the program expanded, and recently COMTREA was designated with FQHC status. The dental health portion was recently enacted in September 2013, and offered Holifield a way to reach out to those in need.

"My ultimate goal is to focus on pregnant women within the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) system and Medicaid, to make sure that they have all their treatment done," she said. "My goal is to get all of their treatment done before their insurance runs out, because typically they have it for about six weeks after they give birth."

Treating pregnant women is vital, Holifield said, because expecting mothers are often the ones who do most of the oral health care at home. Educating mothers as soon as possible helps to ensure that their children will have great oral health.

"The mothers are concerned for their well-being, " she said. "They're concerned for their babies' well-being, and if we can tell them things that are going to help with the babies' future, especially in the area of oral health, I think that is the way to do it. You start with mom and it sort of starts to trickle down."

Holifield even has words of encouragement for mothers who already have children, children she also helps when they are at COMTREA.

"I was telling one of the mothers today, the more you can put your fingers in there to look around, the better, because once they get a little bit older and they go to see the dentist, it will be just like any other day."

Naturally, the list of duties Holifield has responsibility for encompasses more than seeing pregnant patients, and that keeps getting longer. But each one is critical to the entire health care process. There is a clinical component — Holifield will perform prophies and radiographs. She also helps with Medicaid benefits, ensuring that all patients are covered. This is important to the entire process — if a patient does not have the pre-authorization to receive certain care, the dental team cannot help them. Holifield makes sure that doesn't happen. She also works with local oral health coalitions, sitting in on meetings to help brainstorm new ways to expand their presence into the community, so those who truly need their help know how to get it.

The project Holifield is most proud of is the outreach into local area schools. This March, for approximately three weeks, a dental team will go out into elementary schools, where school nurses will have a room set aside for them to do everything, from fillings to radiographs. The entire set-up is portable, including the x-ray equipment.

Helping children is important to Holifield, who often reflects back on personal experiences when she's out in these schools.

"I remember I had a baby-tooth that crumbled in my mouth and I didn't know what was wrong," Holifield said. "I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know that it was a cavity because I didn't have that education, or we didn't have access to people who could tell me what it was and fix it.

"So ... we can go into the schools with this equipment, and the parents don't have to miss work because this group that we are treating ... they need every penny that they can get, and if they miss work to take their child into the dentist, it's just one more hurdle that they have to overcome. You know you've got to sort of choose between going to the dentist and making rent. That was probably what was happening when I was growing up, they either had to make a house payment or take care of a cavity and obviously the house payment is more important, especially when you are just one child of seven."

Typically, these are mobile clinics, and once Holifield and her team are done, they pack up and move to the next school. However, COMTREA recently established a clinic based out of one of the schools — the first of its kind in the state. Being able to have a permanent set-up in the school presents a whole host of opportunities and conveniences.

"[The students] don't miss out on perfect attendance, the parents don't have to take off of work ... so that is just an added bonus to the program that we have in addition to the mobile clinic that we do."

These accomplishments, some of which are a first in the state, are all part of Holifield's plan. To be able to help those in need, when she herself knows what it's like to go without help, is true inspiration. To establish permanent clinics within the community, to leave a lasting impression — it's all part of the plan. Because Holifield knows firsthand that no one should ever have to decide between paying rent and getting care for a child.

This edition of Working was prepared by Josh Snyder.

Read the full article at http://pubs.royle.com/article/working/1638611/198037/article.html.

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