The Week That Was at the MDA
Editor’s note: As the author of this blog, I apologize for my recent weak performance. For 2017, my new goal is to post a summary of miscellaneous activities from the week at the end of every week. It will be my inside scoop on the news with a social twist. Start to follow along and send me your feedback. Thanks to my loyal readers if there are any!
Advocacy was front and center this week for the MDA and I couldn’t have been prouder. Our Legislative Reception was well attended Tuesday night, when for more than two hours senators and representatives stopped by for some refreshment and a chance to meet and visit with our members. We had a good mix of MDA trustees, members and dental students. This neutral environment is good for sharing our legislative agenda and connecting with elected officials.
Even more impressive was the turnout the next morning for MDA Legislative Day. Some 75 members from across the state canvassed the Capitol conducting meetings with their representatives. Plus we had some concentrated time alone with House and Senate leadership and with Will Scharf, policy director for Governor Greitens. This was an excellent time to hear what’s ahead this session and to ask some direct questions. Having a full room of members made a strong impression.
I can’t begin to mention by name all who made this possible. Certainly, MDA Legislative Director, Katie Reichard, is at the forefront. Also notable is that eight past presidents of the MDA plus current president, Dr. Prabu Raman, were in attendance. If anyone knows the positive impact from strong advocacy, it’s these leaders. But I also salute all our members—from all four corners of the state and everywhere in between—who gave up significant time and loss of income to make advocacy a priority. It’s important to show concern in numbers. It’s critical that members speak directly to elected officials. It’s a great example for new members or dental students to see. And the camaraderie creates a momentum and excitement for the profession. I encourage even more to attend next year.
We weren’t around very much! A squadron of MDA staffers spent Monday afternoon delivering oral health kits to every legislator as a reminder for the week’s activities. This delivery is always received with delight and gratitude; you’d be surprised how much they value having a toothbrush and paste in the office. Vicki and I did welcome a visit from Cynthia Hayes and Rosalyn Tinnin from Missouri Foundation for Health. They shared about a new funding stream that we may be able to consider for some unique approaches to access issues.
Hardly a long trip, but the road to the Capitol kept us all busy this week. Plus Vicki and Katie and Drs. Merle Nunemaker, Nathan Suter and John Dane (members of the MDA Teledentistry committee) were among the attendees at the Missouri Telehealth Summit in town on Thursday. Here they met with different provider groups, and heard from a diverse group of individuals and facilities regarding telemedicine practices throughout the country, and the positive impact telehealth is having. And I enjoyed staying local while having the opportunity to crow about the MDA Foundations to the Thursday evening meeting of the Jefferson City Study Club. Twelve lucky dentists got to hear me prattle on about fundraisers, MOMOM and the like. I’m excited to attend my first ever Greater St. Louis Dental Society Installation banquet on Saturday. I expect a snazzy affair and merriment!
Quote of the Week
It’s your profession so how would you define oral health? Here’s the latest formal definition from the current issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.
“Oral health is multifaceted and includes the ability to speak, smile, smell, taste, touch, chew, swallow, and convey a range of emotions through facial expressions with confidence and without pain, discomfort, and disease of the craniofacial complex.”
Traditionally, oral health has been defined as the absence of disease. But as authors of the JADA editorial explain, a new definition was necessary to expand on its many facets and convey oral health as a fundamental human right.