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CONTACT: Sarah Shed
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(02.14.11) AUGUSTA – The 2011 “Oral Health Heroes” have been named by the Maine Dental Access Coalition. This award is given to people and programs that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and a strong commitment to improving the state of oral health in Maine through oral health advocacy, organizing, and service.

Rep. Les Fossel presents Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess
with an Oral Health Heroes Award
from the Maine Dental Access Coalition
This year’s heroes are Representative Meredith Strang Burgess, Robert R. Berube DDS, David R. Kerr DDS, and Jonathan Shenkin DDS,MPH, and the Dental Wellness Center of Biddeford. The awards will be presented at the Maine Dental Access Coalition’s Legislative Breakfast at the Cross Cafeteria at the State House on February 17, 8:30 – 10:30 AM.

According to Wendy Alpaugh, Chair of the Coalition “What this year’s awardees have in common is a willingness to stretch to find new solutions in difficult times. Each of the three dentists have made significant contributions to improving policy and delivery systems change that go way beyond their private practices. The Community Dental Wellness Center is the result of new and lasting collaborative efforts of three separate organizations, and our legislator exemplifies a spirit of bi-partisanship in the cause of good public health solutions for Maine.”

Both Dr. Berube, an oral surgeon in Augusta and Dr. Kerr, a general dentist in Falmouth, have spent the last year serving on a committee formed in response to a legislative directive, A Resolve, to Study Expenditures for Oral Health in the MaineCare Program. Dr. Berube played a leading role with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to create a system that diverts patients away from costly emergency rooms to timely, appropriate and definitive care for acute pain and infection. The pilot program Dr Berube developed with Pen Bay Hospital has been presented to eleven other hospitals for implementation. Dr. David Kerr has donated countless hours to reviewing/analyzing aggregate MaineCare dental data to help DHHS characterize how MaineCare money is being spent in hospital emergency rooms. This work has been invaluable in informing the recommendations of the forthcoming report, which will be submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services.

Dr Shenkin, a pediatric dentist in Augusta has been a long time supporter of public health policy solutions to prevent disease. In the last legislative session he initiated, lobbied and worked for passage of landmark protection for children when he proposed legislation that requires all dental benefit providers who do business in Maine to insure children from the age of one year. This successful legislation corrected a practice that previously allowed benefits for children to not begin until age four. Dr Shenkin has been an unfailing champion of early prevention of dental disease.

The Dental Wellness Center in Biddeford is a model of collaborative action; it exists due to the efforts of the Biddeford Free Clinic, Community Dental, and the York County Dental Society. These groups came together to provide free oral health prevention and treatment services to individuals who have no source of payment and do not qualify for Community Dental’s Sliding Fee Scale. The services are scheduled by the Biddeford Free Clinic using Community Dental’s scheduling system, the services are delivered in Community Dental’s state- of- the-art Biddeford Center, and the services are provided by volunteer dentists and other dental staff.

Representative Strang Burgess, the daughter of a dentist, is serving her third term as a legislator in House District #108 and is presently the co-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. In and out of the legislature she has been a staunch advocate for many health issues, including support for a Maine dental school, increasing MaineCare services by including adults and enabling providers to see more beneficiaries by increasing payment rates.


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Rep. Strang Burgess, founder and owner of Burgess Advertising & Marketing in Portland, is a second-term legislator representing House District 108, which includes Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Long Island and part of North Yarmouth.


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