Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation Grants $330,000 to launch oral-care program at Banner - University Medical Center Phoenix


A $330,000 grant from Delta Dental
of Arizona Foundation will fund a new
oral-care program for older patients
at Banner – University Medical Center

Delta Dental of Arizona, through its Foundation, has awarded the Banner Health Foundation $330,000 to fund a new Hospital Oral Care and Periodontal Disease Education (HOPE) program at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, an Age-Friendly Healthcare System recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

“HOPE will address the oral health of patients at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, age-65 and older and adults with disabilities. This program establishes a minimum of twice-daily oral health protocols for senior patients and those at high risk for periodontal disease who may be unable to connect to dental health resources in their community,” says Allan Allford, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Arizona. “This medical-dental collaboration very specifically executes Delta Dental’s mission of improving lives through optimal oral health.”

A report from the U.S. Surgeon General noted that oral problems in older adult and disabled populations are the most common unmet health needs, and that oral diseases are often related to general health problems. In geriatric medicine, poor oral health increases hospitalization risk due to both infectious and non-infectious diseases.

“Of all patients admitted to Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix annually, 42 percent are over age 65, making it the ideal location to launch this partnership,” says Dr. Nimit Agarwal, Director of the Division of Geriatric Medicine and the Center for Healthy Aging at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. He adds that even though people are living longer, it does not necessarily mean that they are living healthier. “With more than 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 everyday, it is imperative that healthcare systems address the healthcare needs of older adults now by identifying practice gaps and introducing quality improvement measures to manage complex and chronic medical issues,” he says.

The grant will support an oral health navigator to educate and support patients across hospital units and departments and collaborate with case managers and social workers to identify barriers to care and facilitate access to dental services and oral healthcare for the highest-risk patients. The grant will also fund the establishment of an oral health standard of care in geriatric medicine which will then be implemented across all of Banner’s Arizona hospitals, oral-health training for nurses and other medical providers, and an oral-health patient assistance fund to support patients needing financial assistance in order to access dental care.