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Virgin Islands Dental Association holds oral health summit with ADA

June 24, 2019

By Jennifer Garvin

Governor Albert Bryan and ADA President Cole
Summit: ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole, right, meets with Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. to discuss the territory’s oral health needs.

U.S. Virgin Islands — ADA President Jeffrey M. Cole traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands June 20 to meet with the Virgin Islands Dental Association and other stakeholders to discuss the territory’s five-year oral health plan.

The ADA and Virgin Islands Dental Association, called VIDA, are working together to address the territory’s oral health care needs and how to remove barriers to care.

“We are proud to work closely with elected officials and a committed group of dentists to improve oral health for U.S Virgin Islanders,” said Dr. Cole in a news release. “Over the past several months, the ADA and VIDA have formulated an oral health care plan for the territory that VIDA dentists are ready to initiate. No one is more dedicated than Virgin Islands dentists, hygienists and other dental staff to see all Virgin Islanders free of dental decay and pain. This summit was a necessary step to begin moving forward on this strategic plan.”

During the visit, Dr. Cole met with Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and health officials to discuss dental education and establishing training programs for additional members of the dental care team. The stakeholders also discussed reforming the Virgin Islands Medical Assistance Program. The territory continues to recover from two hurricanes in 2017 that caused catastrophic damage to its infrastructure and health care system. 

“My administration is deeply committed to the health of all Virgin Islanders, and good oral health is critical to that,” said Gov. Bryan. “I appreciate President Cole and all of the Virgin Islands dentists and elected officials who attended the summit to help us redouble our efforts to improve dental health in the territory.”

One part of improving care includes embracing the ADA’s Community Dental Health Coordinator model. Several hygienists and assistants from USVI health centers and private practices are expected to participate in a 2019-20 distance learning CDHC program this year through Rio Salado Community College in Tempe, Arizona. 

In addition to adding CDHCs to the university, the Virgin Islands is also working to improve the territory’s public dental clinics and increase funding for dental services in the territory’s medical assistance program.