To celebrate just how far Maryland has come, on June 4, Maryland honored six community leaders for their work in igniting change. Awards were presented to:
- Secretary John Colmers, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who provided the high level leadership for change in Maryland,
- Dr. Harry Goodman, director of the Office of Oral Health at the DHMH who developed innovative programs that have enabled thousands of children to get basic oral health screenings, fluoride varnish and referrals to dentists through pediatricians,
- State Senator Thomas McClain Middleton and State Delegate Peter Hammen, each of whom supported significant and needed policy, funding, and legislative and political efforts to support proposed changes,
- Dr. Scott Wolpin, dental director of Choptank Community Health Systems who has developed an excellent model for a comprehensive community approach to oral health,
- Dr. Winifred Booker, a leader in Maryland dentistry and practicing pediatric dentist.
Each played a key role in helping communities across Maryland better address the need for regular access to quality oral health care.
Speaking at this celebration, Congressman Elijah Cummings recalled the memory of Deamonte Driver, saying the untimely death of the 12 year old boy from untreated dental disease, is real and raw to him. He could have been Deamonte Driver, growing up thinking it was normal to have dental pain and decay. In congratulating the 2010 Heroes, Cummings observed that each Hero brought “skill to the table and compassion to the task.” He thanked them for "bringing life to life" and reminded the audience that work has to continue so this kind of tragedies doesn’t happen again. It is important to get this message out to public that the time to get dental care is not only when a child is in pain is critical.
This 1st Oral Health Heroes Celebration was hosted by the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) with support from the DentaQuest Foundation. The work doesn’t end here; as someone in the audience said, “MDAC needs to act like the “Terrapin” who sticks its neck out and never moves backward.”
I have no doubt that it will.
Guest Post by Ralph Fuccillo, President of the DentaQuest Foundation