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Kaiser Permanente integrates vaccination services at Give Kids A Smile observance

March 02, 2015

By Jean Williams

Dr. Felix Lee
Treated well: Kaiser Permanente’s Dr. Felix Lee provides 7-year-old August Ebalaroza with free dental care on Feb. 7 at their Glisan Dental Office in Portland, Ore., as part of Give Kids A Smile.
Dr. Plunkett
Dr. Plunkett
Dr. Setter
Dr. Setter
Nearly 40 dentists, among 230 total volunteers, offered free dental services to underserved children Feb. 7 when Kaiser Permanente Northwest observed Give Kids A Smile Day at seven of its dental offices.
The seven sites offered free dental sealants, fluoride varnishes and other dental treatments — and even vaccinations — to low-income, uninsured and underinsured children in Oregon and Southwest Washington in collaboration with the ADA Foundation and in celebration of the ADA’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Dr. Shelby Setter, a pediatric dentist who has worked with Kaiser Permanente for three years, participated at the system’s Hillsboro, Oregon, location.

She said she treated a variety of young patients. “There were people who came in from the coast,” Dr. Setter said. “There were people who came in from underserved populations in the community. I treated a wide range of kids from all over the state.

“Anyone who walked in the door, whatever care they needed we were at least able to provide for any urgent needs that they had, any pain issue or education.”

Dr. Setter said a most memorable moment for her was helping a 5-year-old complaining of tooth pain. “He had been in pain for quite some time,” she said. “We were able to get him out of pain. The moment we numbed him up, he looked over and said, ‘It doesn’t hurt anymore.’ It breaks your heart, but it also makes you feel like you’re making a difference.”

Registered and licensed practical nurses were on hand to provide vaccinations to the participating children who needed them.

“We call it closing the care gap,” said Dr. Michael Plunkett, senior director for Dental Care Delivery, Kaiser Permanente. “For us to do this in our Give Kids A Smile events was just a natural extension of what we already do in our clinical system, which is work to coordinate total health and total care for the patients.

“We see children coming through the clinic, and it’s a perfect opportunity whether they’re a Kaiser Permanente member or not to provide them with their vaccinations.”

Dr. Plunkett said Kaiser Permanente got a good deal of attention from local media for its GKAS efforts, especially due to the added service of offering vaccinations, a timely topic with the Kaiser Permanente GKAS events coming on the heels of measles outbreaks in December at Disneyland in California. But the added measure of care was unrelated to the hot topic issue, Dr. Plunkett said.

“I know that’s getting a lot of attention nationally, but we in our system, both dental and medical, try to follow as much evidence-based care as possible,” he said. “It’s completely natural for us to provide the vaccines.”