WHA Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group Examines Statewide Dental Initiatives; Assesses Need

February 02, 2018

WHA’s Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group welcomed Ann Boson, director of community relations and charitable fund, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, to its meeting January 31. Boson highlighted Delta Dental’s support of dental patients with special needs in a variety of settings throughout Wisconsin. Delta’s support includes funding essential services and equipment in some WHA member hospitals that provide operating room time for patients who must receive their dental treatment while under general anesthesia. Some recent examples of support provided by Delta Dental to Wisconsin hospitals include:

  • $365,000 over three years to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to expand training and education. This training will help dental students as well as current dentists and their team members become more comfortable and skilled in caring for dental patients with special needs. 
  • $36,890 to Fort HealthCare’s program to purchase dental instruments and equipment.
  • $11,500 to ProHealth Care for dental equipment for hospital dentistry.
  • $85,000 to the Red Cliff Band of Indians Dental Clinic & Ashland Memorial Medical Center for a pediatric dentist and hospital cart.
  • $71,940 in the past three years to HSHS St. Mary’s and St. Vincent hospitals for dental instruments and equipment.

After Boson’s presentation, the Work Group reviewed results of a survey that was administered to Work Group members. One of the survey’s key findings was the substantial cost of treating special needs dental patients in hospital operating rooms. Most of these special needs patients are on Medicaid, and the reimbursement does not come close to covering the facility’s costs; in fact, losses are incurred on every patient. However, many of these patients must have their dental treatment provided under general anesthesia in a hospital operating room for safety reasons. Addressing this dilemma will be a primary focus of the Work Group. However, Work Group members acknowledged the importance of first determining how many of these dental patients are being served, or waiting for services, in hospital operating rooms throughout the state. WHA is gathering this information, which will inform the Work Group’s policy recommendations.

For further information on the Special Needs Dental Patients Work Group, contact Laura Rose, WHA vice president, policy development, at lrose@wha.org.

This story originally appeared in the February 02, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter