Your donation at work: Zufall one of six centers funded for integrated preventive care

Thanks to a $10,000 Prevention is Power™ grant, an innovative medical-dental integration effort is underway at Zufall Health. Most of the funding will be used toward cross-functional interventions for patients at high risk of heart disease.

Prevention is Power is a multi-year public health awareness initiative from the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, Inc. (HSCF), the philanthropic arm of international health care solutions company Henry Schein, Inc. In partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC), HSCF selected Zufall as one of six community health centers (CHC) nationally for the campaign’s inaugural Prevention is Power Health Care Screening Program.

“Zufall patients greatly benefit from integrated care driven by provider collaboration, co-location of medical and dental facilities, and shared electronic health records,” says Zufall Chief Medical Officer Rina Ramirez, MD. “Integration facilitates more opportunities for screenings, diagnoses, and referrals to reduce gaps and improve outcomes.”

Led by Ramirez and SVP of Dental Services Jade Duncan, DDS, MEd, Zufall will identify 50 dental patients with hypertension, one of the leading risk factors for heart disease. Participants will receive culturally responsive education about the connections between
heart health and oral health.

“One significant example links periodontal (gum) disease and the cardiovascular system,” says Duncan. “When gum bacteria enter the bloodstream, the resulting inflammation can affect the heart’s blood vessels and increase the risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.”

Critical to this health literacy effort are Zufall’s Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHCs), community health workers who help patients navigate barriers to dental services. As needed, CDHCs will refer patients to Zufall’s existing self-monitoring blood pressure program.

Additional funding will be used to support the Dental Department’s fifth annual Oral Health Symposium, themed “Prevention, Health Equity, and Wellness.” Duncan anticipates that the virtual conference, focusing on whole-health prevention through the lens of oral health, will draw more than 300 health care professionals from across the U.S.