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Case Western dental, nursing students collaborate for "one-stop" health care

February 27, 2013

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

Cleveland—Patients in dental chairs at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine are seeing something new these days: a nurse.

The CWRU dental and nursing schools are taking an innovative and interprofessional team approach to treating patients in a new three-year test project known as the Collaborative Home for Oral Heath, Medical Review and Health Promotion, or CHOMP.

The program creates, in essence, a one-stop shop for patient care.

Funded with a $265,000 grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration to the school of nursing, CHOMP debuted in January at the Case Western Reserve dental clinic. The grant targets efforts where health sciences are finding new ways to bring the health science professions together in working and learning situations. Patients will continue to pay for regular dental exams and testing, but the grant defrays fees for health screenings and immunizations.

“We have been thinking for a long time about how dentists and dental offices can be of even greater value to society by playing a broader role in primary health care,” said Dr. Jerold Goldberg, dean of the dental school.

For the first year, 32 dental and nurse practitioner students working in pairs will provide care one day a week. By year three, CHOMP will expand to twice a week and 64 students as the program expands from adults to children.

Patients will receive oral exams and health screenings for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, red and white blood cell counts, and, if desired, HIV testing. The NP students may treat and prescribe medications for patients with such acute health issues as flu, strep throat and other nonchronic illnesses, and administer immunizations for flu, tetanus and pneumonia. Patients who need follow-up medical care will be referred to local health providers.

“A partnership between advanced practice nurses or NPs and dentists provides an excellent way to deliver and increase access to quality healthcare while alleviating the shortage of primary care providers,” said Mary E. Kerr, Ph.D., dean of the nursing school.

Faculty from both schools will be on site to monitor and guide the dental-nursing teams. Dr. Kristin Victoroff, project co-director and associate dean for education at the dental school, and co-director Carol Savrin, DNP, director of the Master of Science in Nursing program at the nursing school, will track how patients use the combined services and whether it is economically viable to have nurse practitioners work in the dental clinic. If so, the program will be expanded to five days a week.