Experts in IDD Gather to Learn from Each Other

May. 21, 2019

We’re doing much better, but there’s still a long way to go.

That was the general sentiment among all the experts who spoke at the One Voice Oral Health Pre Conference this month, hosted by UR Medicine’s Eastman Institute for Oral Health. Each shared ideas and stories from their own experiences.

TDr. Sulkeshe American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry’s One Voice annual conference was held in Rochester, NY, where physicians, dentists and other leaders in the field gathered at Eastman Institute a day early for engaging panel discussions, presentations and meaningful discussions about how to make more progress in healthcare provision for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Rochester, NY is unique in its ability to provide comprehensive services to children and adults with IDD and complex medical conditions.  Having stepped outside of their professional silos, the specialists within the University of Rochester Medical Center are leading the way with interdisciplinary collaborations and innovative solutions that are making a real difference.

“The word is out. People come to Rochester and western NY not for the climate, necessarily,” joked Dr. Steve Sulkes, a URMC developmental and behavioral pediatrician and president of AADMD, “but because there are great services here. We’re over flowing. Our medical and dental clinics are full.  It’s a measure of our success and a measure of the community’s support.”

Panel 2EIOH Director Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD,  shared with the 120 attendees examples of UR Medicine’s innovative approaches to care, such as Eastman Dental’s new Specialty Care Clinic, the Complex Care Center with multiple services under one roof, and inter-disciplinary treatment. He described the situation of a young man with cerebral palsy who drove 3 hours every month for 1.5 years for periodontal, oral and maxillofacial surgery and orthodontic treatment at Eastman Institute for his life changing smile.

“I’m very impressed with this case,” said Matt Holder, MD, MBA, Global Medical Advisor, Special Olympics. “It’s amazing what you’ve done in Rochester, in addition to attracting the top talent in this field.”

Similar to UR Medicine, Dr. Holder has patients who travel four hours one way for dental treatment at his clinic. “You know they are passing a lot of dentists along the way,” he remarked.  “It’s almost unconscionable, but that’s the situation we’re in.”

Communication between disciplines and specialties is paramount to improve care and focus on prevention, Dr. Holder emphasized. “When I learned that the tooth structure erodes faster than a metal filling, it blew my mind,” he recalled. “Why didn’t anyone tell me this in medical school? I now make it a point to tell this to every medical student I work with.”

Panel discussionJack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH, executive clinical director of the Pacific Dental Services Special Needs Dental Clinic in Arizona, agreed wholeheartedly about needing to do a better job for people with IDD, but also for seniors, nursing home residents, veterans and oral cancer patients.

The traditional way of doing things has to change, he stressed, and can only happen when there’s trust, integrity and thinking outside the box.

“Blow up the box!” he encouraged. “Don’t let yourself fall back in. Don’t be afraid to take risks – it’s critical for innovation.”

Instead of separate medical, dental and behavioral homes, Dr. Dillenberg envisions a singular health home. He’d like to see healthcare become more patient centric and value based. He supports the notion of a mid-level provider, and encourages resolution to that debate.  He likens it to physicians rejecting physician assistants years ago, but today most practices have them.

“Be the dentist, physician, nurse, the policy maker, the industry person who takes the opportunity to make a difference,” he challenged. “How can we take what we know and translate that in to a health care system that’s relevant, committed and caring for those with disabilities and special needs?

University of Rochester Medical Center CEO Dr. Mark Taubman stressed his commitment to serving this population, whose oral health in particular, very often gets ignored.

Dr Taubman, Dr Eliav, M. Penrose“Taking care of everybody’s teeth is important, because the more problems you have with your teeth, the more diseases, infections you have,” Dr. Taubman said. “And it’s important to provide a variety of environments that allow us to do this in the best way possible. Eastman Dental’s new Specialty Care clinic is the next step in a series of steps to make sure we really are among the leadership taking care of this population.”

Michele Penrose, director of Global Professional Relations at Henry Schein, Inc. spoke briefly after Dr. Eliav presented a plaque in recognition of Henry Schein’s support for the new clinic, which features air glide chairs, large treatment rooms with dual entry, a special elevator to accommodate stretchers, a wheelchair lift and a bariatric chair, among other features.

“We are delighted to support Eastman, to improve health literacy, and to be a part of this collective impact to catalyze change and improve access to care,” she said. “It’s an honor for us to be a part of the group today.”

Other speakers and panelists included Rick Rader, MD, Tiffany Pulcino MD, Adam Joachimiak, Carrie Burkin, Mary Foley, RDH, MPH, Matt Holder, MD, MBA, M. Dian Chin Kit-Wells, DDS, Wayne Lipschitz, DDS,  Adela Planerova, DDS, Rick Rader, MD, director of the Habilitation Center at the Orange Grove Center in Chattanooga,  Karen Raposa, RDH, MBA, Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD, Sara Walworth, LMSW, Ann Costello,  David Fray, DDS, MBA, Gary Goldstein, and Michelle Ziegler, DDS.

Dr. Sulkes surprised Dr. Eliav with an IDD Champion Award on behalf of the AADMD. Dr. Abra Caroci, an Eastman Institute alum, told the audience that something Dr. Eliav said the first time they met really stuck with him.AADMD Award presentation

“We were planning an event dedicated to treating patients with IDD,” Dr. Caroci recalled. “He said, ‘we want to do this--not because it’s a nice thing to do--because it’s the right thing to do.’

“His commitment is shown everywhere,” Dr. Caroci continued. “Dr. Eliav believes deeply that everyone should have high quality care without compromise, and he does it with or without the money, with or without the support- because it’s the right thing to do.”

“It is an honor to have this award,” Dr. Eliav said. “But I accept this award for Eastman Institute for Oral Health, not for me. The Institute did well before I served as director, and will continue to do so well into the future.”