Grant Project Title
Dental Public Health Collaborative: STD and STI Education, Prevention, and Access to Care in Vulnerable Patient Populations
Grantee Address

University of New Haven
300 Boston Post Rd
West Haven, CT
United States

The University of New Haven Dental Center (UNH) utilizes current advancements in dental hygiene treatment and infection control to provide care to approximately 1,500 patients per year, the bulk of which are uninsured and underinsured. Additionally, UNH houses a Public Health program, which will be engaged in this project, that teaches epidemiology, biostatistics, social and behavioral science, and environmental health.

This proposal is focused on building a “Public Health Collaborative”, which is a new, integrated system of care that will address the issues of awareness and stigma around the implementation of STD and STI services in dental settings. Currently, New Haven has the 3rd highest rate of reported STDs out of 169 cities and towns across the state. Additionally, UNH has identified several CDT codes that could be used to support this work, but since the codes were adopted in 2017, very few dental professionals use these codes and few public and private payers reimburse for them.

There is also a unique window of opportunity in Connecticut right now as a result of a recent memorandum from the State Public Health Department that names a broad range of providers as “prescribing practitioners”, including dentists, who can be positioned to expedite patients with STIs and STDs to access to care. This project has the potential to build on a broader interest in the state to address STI/STD rates.

Within the scope of the proposal, UNH outlines a plan to train dental hygiene students on STI/STD recognition and treatment. Then, to capitalize on the large patient volume seen in the Dental Center, implement a process of providing education, counseling, and referral to an appropriate medical provider to connect them with a broader continuity of care. The University will work with an established affiliated network of FQHCs, schools, and public health institutions. In addition to implementing the program within the UNH Dental Center, the University will work with their affiliated network to adopt and test this model within their oral health programs to increase the broader adoption.

A core component of the project will include the establishment of an 8-patient advisory board specific to this project. UNH will employ sampling strategies such as oversampling to ensure inclusivity and in order to attract a representative cohort. The Patient Advisory Board will meet regularly and will initially support through providing feedback on their own experiences in medical and dental facilities. Throughout the project, the Patient Advisory Board will be engaged in providing feedback on implementation and interpreting the success of the project.

At the culmination of the project, UNH will develop and publish a report highlighting both the process and impact of the model. The report will be shared with CareQuest Institute, with the state Medicaid agency in the hopes of increasing access to payment models for this integrated approach, and with the broader field.

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