First-of-its-kind medical-dental summit planned Friday in Pasco

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldApril 20, 2014 

A first-of-its-kind medical-dental summit aimed at improving health in the region is coming to the Tri-Cities.

The Eastern Washington Medical-Dental Summit is Friday at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco.

A free public screening of the film Say Ahh, billed as the world's first documentary on oral health, is scheduled Friday night.

The American Academy for Oral Systemic Health and the Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance are presenting the summit, which is drawing physicians, dentists, nurses, hygienists, hospital administrators and public health officials, among other health care professionals.

The Benton Franklin County Medical Society is a sponsor, and dental societies in the region also support the summit, officials said.

"This has never been done before at this level ... this degree of collaboration, where you've got the policy makers and the movers and the shakers inside the health care community realizing that we need to sit down and change, we've got to cross this divide and get everybody on the same page," said Dr. Lee Ostler, a Richland dentist and president of the oral systemic health academy.

"There are people in other cities who are saying, 'We want to do this here,' " he said.

Experts note that a person's oral health affects their overall physical health, with links between the mouth and issues from cardiovascular disease to dementia.

When health care professionals better understand the connections and coordinate care, it's better for patients and the overall health of the community and can reduce health care costs, said Carol Moser, executive director of the health alliance.

A few years ago, the health alliance, the Benton-Franklin Health District and the four local hospitals spearheaded a community health needs assessment that identified increasing access to health care services and reducing obesity as top needs.

A Community Health Improvement Plan rolled out last year outlined numerous strategies and tactics. One strategy was to create opportunities for dentists, physicians and the community "to discuss and better understand the link between oral disease and other health conditions."

Gary Kadi, who produced Say Ahh through the nonprofit Partners in Complete Health, is scheduled to attend the summit. He plans to bring a film crew and will spend a few days interviewing local health officials and professionals to document the local collaboration, officials said.

The summit is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Red Lion Hotel in Pasco, with presentations from national experts on a number of topics.

Amy Doneen, medical director of the Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center in Spokane and co-author of the book, Beat the Heart Attack Gene, is the keynote speaker.

For details or to register for the summit, go to www.tchealth.net.Continuing medical and dental education credits are available.

The public Say Ahh screening starts at 7 p.m. at the Pasco Red Lion. People are asked to RSVP at www.tchealth.net.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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