The human touch

‘Tirelessly making personal connections.’

That’s the mantra of Delta Dental’s team charged with inspiring Michigan families with Delta Dental Healthy Kids Dental (HKD) benefits to see a dentist.

In 2021 they crisscrossed the state, visiting schools and community meetings. They discussed oral health with parents, oral health coalitions, Head Start teachers and program coordinators. And they called homes— hundreds every week—to explain the HKD program, find transportation for families who need it and help schedule dental appointments.

“We’ll move heaven and earth to get people to the dentist,” said Dennise Hodge, program administrator and outreach specialist. “Our callers provide an extra level of personal attention to help parents however they can.They leave a lot of messages, but they’re persistent in increasing utilization. As a direct result of their calls, we’ve seen a 15 percent increase in dental visits.”

And the team that was forced to adjust in-person contact through the pandemic continued to get creative with outreach—for instance, handing out oral health information during a drive-thru diaper giveaway via Head Start.

“The 0 to 2 age range is a marker we want to improve,” said Becky Domagalski, dental care specialist. “So reaching parents of toddlers through the diaper drive-thru was a good socially distant way for us to influence oral health and get more of the youngest children to the dentist.”

Sharing the spotlight

In 2021, Dr. Erik Stier led the population health and utilization management team. And when the Greater Detroit Area Health Council (GDAHC) named him as a Salute! to Healthcare 2021 Breakthrough Award recipient, he met every “congratulations” with the same sentiment— this was a Delta Dental team award.

GDAHC is southeast Michigan’s premier health care coalition and a longtime partner. Their annual awards celebrate individuals and organizations who have transformed health and health care in the region.

“This award was gained through a lot of hard work, listening and passion,” Dr. Stier said. “The work has led to tremendous relationships across the state. It was really a Delta Dental effort. We not only listen to our partners, but we listen to each other, and when you feel you are part of something, success is sure to follow.”

In Detroit neighborhoods

Vaughn Arrington and his company, Human Fliers, use a street-level approach to talk to everyday Detroiters about health care and oral health. And they make Delta Dental a familiar name as they help us eliminate barriers to care. Meet Vaughn and learn about his team’s work: