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Link between Mission of Mercy events and emergency departments explored

February 28, 2017

By David Burger

In 2014, more than 163,000 Floridians visited the hospital emergency rooms for a dental issue, resulting in charges of more than $234 million, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The question was clear to Dr. Andy Brown, secretary of the Florida Dental Association: "How can we get people out of the ER's?"

The answer is difficult. But the Florida Dental Association Foundation, supported by Henry Schein, has embarked on what its study's authors call a first-of-its-kind effort to investigate the impact a dental outreach program such as the Florida Mission of Mercy has on the community's emergency department use.

"Without data, we lack a complete understanding of the patients who visit our Florida Mission of Mercy events, their access to dental care outside of this event, their use of hospital emergency departments for dental problems and the effect of the Florida Mission of Mercy on emergency department utilization," said Dr. Jolene Paramore, first vice president of the Florida Dental Association and principal investigator of the Florida Mission of Mercy impact study.


Collaboration: Steve Kess, vice president, global professional relations for Henry Schein, gestures at the podium during a panel discussion about a Florida Dental Association Foundation study at the Chicago Dental Society's Midwinter Dental Meeting Feb. 23 at McCormick Place. From left are the other panel members, Dr. Jolene Paramore, first vice president of the Florida Dental Association, and Dr. Andy Brown, secretary of the Florida Dental Association.
The details of the study were unveiled during the Chicago Dental Society's Midwinter Dental Meeting Feb. 23 at McCormick Place, with a panel that included Drs. Brown and Paramore and Steve Kess, vice president, global professional relations for Henry Schein and founding president of Henry Schein's corporate social responsibility program Henry Schein Cares Foundation.

The study is underwritten by a research grant from Henry Schein Cares, with additional resources from the Shils Fund, Colgate, Riverside Hospital Foundation, Baptist Health Foundation and the FDA Foundation.

The two-year study began in September 2015 and focuses on the two-day Florida MOM dental clinic held in Jacksonville, Florida, in April 2016. The study aims to gather data about MOM attendees and to measure the effect of the charitable clinic on the subsequent use of local hospital emergency departments for dental care problems and corresponding charges.

As part of this study, more than 1,600 of the 2,800 patients who attended the Florida MOM event were surveyed about their oral health and dental care access. It was found that 27 percent of MOM patients had been to a hospital emergency department for their dental problems.

"The preliminary results of this study provide critical data that can help community health stakeholders across the country develop their own events for the maximum benefit not only of local stakeholders, but the medical community as well," Mr. Kess said. "The results of this study reinforce the benefits that can emerge when the oral health and medical communities are working with a shared vision."

The results of the study, with input from the five Jacksonville-area hospitals, will be available by early next year.

In the meantime, Dr. Brown said the FDA Foundation has sent guidelines, study protocols and questionnaires to MOM coordinators in 28 other states in hopes of encouraging them to conduct their own impact studies. Six of those coordinators will travel to Pensacola in April for the next Florida MOM to learn how the study was developed and how to potentially conduct their own studies.