Oral Health Watch coalition members gathered at our annual luncheon in Olympia this past week. It was an engaging meeting that gave us all a chance to catch up with fellow oral health advocates and share with one another our 2017 legislative goals.
State Senator Ann Rivers (R-18), a strong supporter of oral health care access, was the keynote speaker. Introducing Sen. Rivers, Arcora Foundation President & CEO Diane Oakes described the lawmaker from La Center as a person who wholly understands the connection between oral health and overall health.
“We are fortunate to have a champion who understands that access to preventive oral health care and early dental treatment can improve health, prevent unnecessary suffering and save money,” said Oakes.
Explaining to Oral Health Watch coalition members why dental care access is important to her, Sen. Rivers shared with the group her personal experiences as a young girl. Rivers, who described herself as coming from ‘humbler beginnings,’ noted that she didn’t see a dentist until she was seven or eight-years-old.
Sen. Rivers added that her ability to access dental care as a child has helped her later in life – professionally, personally and health-wise.
She also noted that while our state has made great strides in improving dental access for vulnerable young children and providing coverage for low-income adults, more can be done.
“Washington State has been a leader in health care,” said Sen. Rivers. “We’ve done well with children and there’s been some good progress with adults. Yes, we have some miles to go before we can rest. But I’m ready for the hike if you are.”
Thanks to all of the Oral Health Watch partners who attended and shared with the coalition their commitment to oral health: Adult Family Home Council, Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, CHOICE Regional Health Network, Coordinated Care, Delta Dental of Washington, The Foundation for Healthy Generations, Molina, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, The Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Olympic Community of Health, Statewide Poverty Action Network, , Washington Association of Area Agencies on Aging, Washington Association of Community & Migrant Health Centers, Washington Healthcare Access Alliance, Washington State Dental Association, Arcora Foundation, Washington State Department of Early Learning, Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Health Care Authority, Washington State Hospital Association and Washington State Senior Citizens’ Lobby.