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Lobby Day 2017: advocating for the dental hygiene profession.

Citizens have immense power to influence and improve the world they live in. Every engaged citizen can help create change if they use their voice. Your active participation in the political process can have a great impact. First, you must know your legislator!

Legislators are able to introduce bills, hold hearings, debate and pass legislation. It is important to communicate with lawmakers in a way that is easy to understand. As dental hygienists, you all have stories to share. A great advocacy tool to use in making that connection is a lobby day, whereby constituents have an opportunity to meet face-to-face with their lawmaker to share their stories and discuss issues of interest.

ADHA members participate in lobby days to introduce themselves and the dental hygiene profession. This active participation helps to develop a rapport with legislators and aids in advancing legislative initiatives. The Illinois Dental Hygienists' Association (IDHA), for example, actively participates in various community events throughout the state. IDHA volunteers were present at State Representative Mike Former and State Senator Jim Oberweis' Senior Fair. Through the use of visual aids, dental product information and blood pressure screenings, attendees learned about the importance of regular dental/dental hygiene visits and how oral hygiene is integral to overall health.

Virginia's advocacy efforts resulted in the passage of SB 712 and expanded the Remote Supervision Public Health Model for the dental hygienist employed outside of the Virginia Department of Health. The Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association (VDHA) had a successful Rally Day to promote the necessary expansions to the law. These changes will help further facilitate direct access to dental hygiene services in free clinics and other safety net facilities, as well as multiple nontraditional settings, such as long-term care facilities, schools and Head Start programs. Dental hygienists can provide these services under 'remote supervision' of a dentist who may not have conducted an initial exam, but is available for communication with the dental hygienist during the delivery of dental hygiene services.

Rally Day participants included over 200 dental hygiene clinicians, public health personnel and dental hygiene faculty and students. These volunteers met 144 legislators in the state House and Senate, raising awareness of the importance of easy access to dental hygiene services. ADHA and VDHA jointly support state and federal advocacy efforts that advance direct access and the role of dental hygienists. By working together, we help pass significant pieces of legislation. These victories demonstrate the value of ADHA membership.

The Georgia Dental Hygienists' Association (GDHA) had 250 dental hygienists and students attend their lobby day to support HB 154, which was signed into law on May 8, 2017, making Georgia the 40th direct access state.

"GDHA is very pleased to see the passage of HB 154," said GDHA President Suzanne Newkirk, RDH. The bill will make a difference in the lives of thousands of Georgians who have little to no access to preventive dental care now. We would like thank Representatives Sharon Cooper and Matt Hatchett and Senators Renee Unterman and Valencia Seay for their leadership and vision in supporting this important legislation.

Members of the West Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association (WVDHA) along with faculty and students from West Virginia University, West Liberty University and Bridge Valley Community and Technical College, converged at the West Virginia state capitol to participate in the 2017 Smile West Virginia Educational Advocacy Day.

Participants joined members of the West Virginia Oral Health Coalition and ADHA District III Trustee Dawn Ann Dean, RDH, MSDH, to receive an overview of the legislative process and learn basic lobbying skills from a variety of health care and governmental relations professionals. Students also toured the West Virginia capitol and witnessed the reading of a proclamation for Dental Hygienists' Day sponsored by State Senators Stollings, Takubo, Plymale, Boso, Prezioso, Cline and Ojeda.

"The goal of the project was to support an educational legislative day for our future dental hygiene professionals," said WVDHA President Amanda Stottlemyer, RDH, BSDH, MS. "I believe that by fostering a spirit of comradery, and allowing students the opportunity to talk to legislators about their role as dental hygiene professionals, we can work together to improve the oral and overall health of West Virginians."

Smile West Virginia was presented through a partnership between WVDHA and the West Virginia Oral Health Coalition. Educational Advocacy Day was fully funded by a grant from the DentaQuest Foundation with support from the Marshall University School of Medicine Community and School Oral Health Team.

The Michigan Dental Hygienists' Association (MDHA) held its annual Legislative Blitz where they discussed MDHA's legislative agenda with lawmakers. MDHA provides two distinct opportunities to meet face-to-face with state legislators. The first event introduces dental hygienists to newly elected officials. The second is MDHA's annual Legislative Luncheon. MDHA's legislative agenda includes a limited prescription bill and a dental therapy bill.

Coalition building and knowing your elected officials are two important parts of advocacy. Coalitions take on many different forms and bring together diverse members for a single cause. The United Farm Workers of America (UFW), the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the American Nursing Association (ANA) and the League of Women Voters would be examples of a diverse group of stakeholders who may come together for shared interest--such as improving access to oral health care. By being a part of a coalition, advocates can increase their reach and amplify their message. Using a coalition wisely can benefit the outcome of most advocacy efforts.

ADHA members across the country are working to increase access to health care services, which positively impacts the lives and overall health of our communities. Uniting, empowering and supporting the dental hygiene profession are not only the core of ADHA's ideology, but these pillars are also exemplified through your state and federal advocacy efforts.

Stateline is prepared by the ADHA Division of Education and Professional Advocacy.

Caption: Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association at state capital

Caption: Left to right: Illinois Dental Hygienists' Association President Lisa Schmidt, RDH, BA; State Representative Mike Fortner; IDHA Manager of Government Relations Terri Apostolou, RDH; and IDHA Immediate Past President Gaylene Baker, BSDH, MBA

Caption: Far left: Georgia Dental Hygienists' Association lobbyist Charles Craig; Anita LaTourette, RDH; Georgia Governor Nathan Deal holding the proclamation; GDHA President Suzanne Newkirk, RDH; Representative Matt Hatchett

Caption: West Virginia Dental Hygienists' Association along with faculty and students from the Student Chapters of the American Dental Hygienists' Association at West Virginia University, West Liberty University, and Bridge Valley Community and Technical College

Caption: Michigan Dental Hygienists' Association at annual Legislative Blitz

Caption: Bright and talented students from Hawkeye, DMACC, and Kirkwood College in the Iowa House Chamber.

Caption: Ohio Dental Hygienists' Association and Universal Health Care Action Network coalition members at Joint Lobby Day at the State House.

Caption: Group picture on the main stairs in the capitol building in Helena, Montana. Montana Dental Hygienists' Association with junior and senior students from Great Falls College-MSU dental hygiene program.

Caption: Minnesota Dental Hygienists' Association members with students from Normandale Community College, Herzing University, the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud Technical and Community College at state capitol.

Caption: Mississippi Dental Hygienists' Association at the state capitol. Left to right, bottom row: Amy Sullivan, PhD, RDH; MDHA President Kristen Myers Parker, RDH; Melissa Britt, RDH, BS. Second row: District I Component President Alana James, MHA, RDH, Third row: MDHA Treasurer Elizabeth Carr, DHA, RDH; Teresa Duncan, DHA, RDH; MDHA lobbyist Kelly Davis Cress.

Caption: Dental hygiene students from University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) visiting Nebraska State Senators at the Legislative Breakfast at the Nebraska state capitol.
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Title Annotation:STATE LINE
Publication:Access
Date:Jul 1, 2017
Words:1260
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