Jackie Sanders, RDH, who is the dental education program director for Sunstar Americas, recognized the eight recipients for the Sunstar/RDH Award of Distinction during a ceremony at the August 2010 RDH Under One Roof conference in Orlando, Fla.
Here is the text of her presentation:
Nancy Alleman, Steilacoom, Washington
Nancy has tirelessly advocated for the underserved populations in Washington state. Her innovative education program, which is delivered to low-income students in her elaborate Toothfairy costume, has touched the lives of hundreds of Head Start and Early Child Education and Assistance Programs. By introducing these children to oral health education in a fun and engaging way the students hear and understand the difference between good snacks and sticky, sugary items.
Working at the grassroots level, Nancy has made a huge impact on how Washington dental hygienists perceive the needs in their communities and how they can make a difference. Nancy has motivated many hygienists to consider community based practice in schools, nursing homes, senior centers, and hospitals and as a result more underserved and ignored populations have received dental disease prevention services and necessary restorative treatment.
As president-elect of the Washington State Dental Hygienist Association, Nancy stepped up to the plate to challenge the status quo and engaged more of her fellow hygienists to think outside the box. She has been active in advocating for legislation that would allow dental hygienists to serve more of those who cannot afford dental care.
Nancy strives to find common ground and recognizes that helping patients to achieve and maintain good oral health is an attainable goal and one that is shared by all dental professionals.
Nancy, thank you for your community service.
Susan Burzynski, Tonawanda, New York
Susan completed her Bachelors in Liberal Arts and a Masters of General Education, 28 years after finishing dental hygiene school. Being a “mature” student, a full-time dental hygienist, a wife and mother, are accomplishments Susan achieved while dealing with a congenital hearing loss.
Her early school years were difficult because there were no provisions afforded students with disabilities. With new regulations currently in place for the disabled student she was able to tape classes and have notes transcribed. With these provisions, and the encouragement of her family, she graduated cum laude in both of her degrees.
While maintaining a full time clinical hygiene position Susan has found the time to volunteer over 2000 hours working as an American Red Cross instructor, making care packages for our military troops, and Chairing on the Oral Cancer Foundation. She is also president of her local dental hygiene component, where she finds time to organize dental sealant clinics and child identification programs.
Susan has been working with the same dental practice for over two decades, making the majority of her patients her second family. She takes the time to not only gain her patient’s trust but to educate them on the products and techniques she knows will make a difference in their oral health.
What makes Susan stand out is her compassion and caring for others while dealing with her own personal challenges. She is driven to be her best.
Susan, thank you for being a positive role model.
Sheree Duff, Auburn Hills, Michigan
Sheree has not only influenced numerous patients’ lives but has worked to educate dental hygiene professionals for more than fifteen years. She is the founder and director of two accredited dental hygiene programs and two dental assisting programs.
Working in a periodontal practice for the first half of her career Sheree realized that her greatest achievement was helping her patients save their teeth. Sheree stated, “Saving teeth, motivating patients to value their smile as much as I did, and having them learn from me, was truly inspirational.” Her personal enthusiasm for the profession was recognized and she was asked by the University of Michigan, School of Dentistry to apply for a teaching position.
Since accepting her teaching position, one of her proudest moments was receiving her programs first full accreditation after working on the documentation for many months at the office and many personal hours at home.
Founding two dental hygiene programs and two dental assisting programs has not only guided many students into a successful career but has also assisted the community in receiving quality dental hygiene preventive and therapeutic care. Last year her school received an additional grant, which provided four free community days to serve the local public.
Her personal high is knowing the students from 15 graduating classes and keeping in touch with their success.
Sheree, thank you for educating our upcoming dental professionals.
Erika Feltham, Fallbrook, California
Erika has received acclaim in California by advocating for public awareness campaigns about the potential negative oral health effects of sour candy. She believes early detection of this destructive erosion is imperative and that the entire profession of dentistry, as well as the FDA need to be made aware of the destructive potential of this candy. Her mission is to educate those people who consume sour candy in large quantities without being aware of its harmfulness. At her prompting, the state’s dental hygiene association issued a resolution stating that it “advocates the expansion of package labeling to include the adverse effects on hard tooth structures from candies with the pH levels of 5.5 and less.
Erika challenges herself to never have plaque control burn-out, while retaining her passion for patient education and prevention. She is a patent holder for two dental products currently on the market. Erika spent numerous hours on the in-depth research that went into the development of these patented products. This knowledge is what helped her further understand not only the needs of her patients but also the needs within the dental office.
Erika has been recognized for her many hours of volunteer work. She has organized and assisted with dental screenings, plaque and hygiene awareness sessions, nutritional and preventive educational sessions.
Erika, thank you for your education of the public and congratulations on your entrepreneurial success.
Lauren Gueitis, Great Neck, New York
Lauren has taken the initiative to raise awareness of the oral/systemic link to her local community as well as to the medical/dental community. Her philosophy is that the most efficient way to educate patients is to “educate the educators”. She has organized and facilitated lectures for dental professionals; round table discussions for endocrinologists, cardiologists, and internists; as well as volunteering to present her “Healthy Mouth – Healthy Body” lecture for diabetes support groups.
Lauren’s comprehensive care and empathy for patients concerns has resulted in improving her patients overall health and well-being. She received national attention via NBC and other internet media sites which resulted in a guest appearance on ABC’s Sunday morning program “Viewpoint”. During the show, she discussed the implications periodontal disease has on diabetes and vice versa.
Lauren’s passion for her patient’s has led her to meet with Dr Loren Golub, the inventor of Periostat. Through Dr. Golub’s support, Lauren spoke to his students at SUNY Stonybrook on the subject of periodontal disease and diabetes. In August 2011, she will present on the subject alongside Donna Jornsay, a nurse and diabetes educator at the National Diabetes Educators’ Conference. Lauren will also be conducting a study on HBA 1c levels and coauthoring an article.
Lauren’s drive, passion, and enthusiasm will continue to benefit patients and make the dental hygiene profession proud.
Lauren, thank you for educating the public and the medical community.
Sherri Lukes, Cobden, Illinois
Sherri’s passion is providing service to migrant and seasonal farm workers. At an early age she began working at the local migrant health center and developed a love and compassion for this specific population and their health issues.
After Sherri left clinical practice she began teaching in a dental hygiene program. In this new position she was able to implement a rotation for dental hygiene students through the same migrant health center. It was a win-win situation in which the student received a great public health experience and the health center received additional services for the farm workers.
Sheri’s research and the results of her studies have been used to leverage additional resources and services for the Migrant Workers population. Through her efforts, these individuals are now living a healthier life.
During the summer months Sherri works with an agency to provide oral health services to the children enrolled in the migrant education program and migrant Headstart. She participates in outreach activities locally and in central Mexico providing eye and oral health services in area villages. She has had the opportunity to include her students in the initiative and has taken students to Mexico in the past several years.
Sheri is most proud of the students who have entered dental public health careers as a result of the experiences they gained under her leadership.
Sherrri, thank you for your community service and leadership.
Michelle Noblet-Vacha, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Michelle has developed a nonprofit organization called Senior Mobile Dental, which “redirects available resources from traditional dental settings into a more accessible program directly addressing the issues seniors face.”
Quoting Michelle, “One of the social barriers we are correcting is the assumption that our elders have dentures. We have renewed the vitality of local facilities and organizations by showing the need and success of interdisciplinary care.” By creating this mobile dental hygiene program to bring direct access to care, Michelle has re-imagined ways to navigate around the social obstacles to better health.
In addition to improved oral health, Michelle’s approach to treatment is helping to relieve the burden on the health care system. She increased collaboration with all health care providers and has educated the providers in the need and delivery of proper daily oral hygiene care.
Michelle has helped numerous elderly individuals that would not have received professional dental hygiene care without her intervention.
Michelle, thank you for providing appropriate care to the senior population.
Debra Olsen, Los Angeles, California
Dee is a registered dental hygienist in alternative practice. This California based career option has allowed Dee the opportunity to serve people who are really in need of care but haven’t had access.
Dee reached out to care givers and developed a program that educated them and desensitized the client. Overcoming many obstacles and people who said it couldn’t be done…Dee made care for these needy individuals happen by educating and training the staff involved with client’s daily oral care. Her patients vary from the homebound to developmentally disabled, seniors in assisted living and skilled nursing. The programs that Dee spear-headed in the Regional Centers have improved the oral health of developmentally disabled clients living in their own home, group homes, intermediate care facilities and skilled nursing facilities.
As we all know, the connection between good oral health and good overall health, results in clients having a better overall quality of life. Dee has been an advocate for those in need and has brought this message to a broad audience.
Dee’s program is now being duplicated by other oral health care professionals and she is always more than willing to share the programs designed to make sure everyone has the right to access to care.
Dee, thank you for bringing more access to your community.
Please join me in congratulating the 2010 Award of Distinction Recipients.