The Viscardi Center And Henry Schein Announce ‘Project Accessible Oral Health’

New Coalition Aims to Shine Light on Significant Need to Enhance Oral Health Care for People with Disabilities; Two-Day Inaugural Meeting October 26-27

ALBERTSON, N.Y., Oct. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – The Viscardi Center announced today that it has joined with Henry Schein Inc to create Project Accessible Oral Health (PAOH), an international public-private partnership that will raise awareness of, and address the significant need for, increased oral health care for people with disabilities, thus improving their overall health and quality of life.

People with disabilities face a number of barriers to accessing quality oral health care, from the difficulty in paying for treatment, to obtaining dental coverage, to the physical challenges of accessing a practitioner’s office or being seated in a dental chair. For oral health care practitioners, lack of alignment within the reimbursement system creates an added challenge to serving this population, which requires ongoing professional development and training to address the unique needs of children and adults with diverse disabilities.

Image by KALI9/GETTYIMAGES

To kick off its proactive work to address these and other obstacles to improved care and healthier outcomes, PAOH will host an inaugural two-day meeting October 26-27, convening many of the world’s foremost experts from the fields of dentistry and disabilities-focused health care, as well as dental educators, advocates, and members of the disabilities community, public health and policy experts, and representatives from the dental industry. Together, these stakeholders will explore ways to improve access to oral health care for people with disabilities while advancing oral health literacy among the broader community.

Steve Perlman, DDS, MScD, founder of Special Olympics Special Smiles, will serve as the keynote speaker for the first day of the event, which will be held at The Viscardi Center in Albertson, New York. The day will feature panel discussions on accessibility and disability in health care, public policy trends at the intersection of oral health and disabilities, and the personal accounts of health care providers and members of the disabilities community. 

“An examination of the delivery systems and payment mechanisms for health care services provided to individuals with disabilities has been at an all-time high this past year,” said John D. Kemp, Esq,president and CEO of The Viscardi Center. “Now is the time to bring oral health into the conversation, as it plays a significant role in overall health. Project Accessible Oral Health is an opportunity to explore challenges, collaboratively create solutions, and build a roadmap to a healthier future for individuals, while examining cost-effective coverage and reimbursement strategies.”

The second day of the event, being held at the NYU College of Dentistry in Manhattan, will feature panel discussions on the global scope of the issue and the potential impact of successful collaborations. Rabbi Kalman Samuels, founder of the Jerusalem-based Shalva Children’s Center, will serve as the day’s keynote speaker. Shalva, a non-denominational organization that provides programming and care for children and adults with disabilities, will serve as the host for PAOH’s 2018 meeting in Israel.

“Dental schools play a crucial role in preparing the next generation of dental professionals, and that should include how to treat patients whose disabilities may present unique challenges,” said Dr. Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, associate dean for Predoctoral Clinical Education, NYU College of Dentistry, and co-organizer of the meeting.

PAOH is supported by the Alliance for Oral Health Across Borders, Bedford Healthcare Solutions, the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, Colgate, the Dental Trade Alliance Foundation, the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, the New York State Dental Association Foundation, the Pacific Dental Services Foundation, and the Special Care Dentistry Association.

“We at Henry Schein have long understood that oral health and overall health are deeply connected, and Project Accessible Oral Health is a momentous step toward a public health framework that offers people with disabilities greater access to quality oral health care and a better quality of life,” said Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein. “We are pleased to stand with The Viscardi Center, NYU College of Dentistry, Shalva Children’s Center, and all of our partners and supporters in this shared mission to help health happen for the disabilities community.”

“We at the NYU College of Dentistry are pleased to co-host this inaugural meeting,” said Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc, Herman Robert Fox dean of the NYU College of Dentistry. “We look forward to advancing this conversation and working towards solutions for the benefit of the disabilities community.”

For more information about PAOH, including a series of blogs and a schedule of the meeting’s featured speakers and presentations, please visit www.projectaoh.org.

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