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Delta Dental of Arizona, Banner Health Foundation Announce Expansion of Oral Health Protocol to 28 Acute-Care Facilities Across Western U.S.
By Alison Bailin - Tuesday Jul 25, 2023
After piloting the program for nearly a year at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, an Age-Friendly Healthcare System recognized by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Delta Dental of Arizona and the Banner Health Foundation are pleased to announce the expansion of the Hospital Oral Care and Periodontal Disease Education (HOPE) program protocol to Banner’s 28 acute-care hospitals across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming. The expansion will enable all Banner medical centers to implement the oral health protocol, potentially serving up to 300,000 patients each year.

Inadequate oral hygiene can lead to devastating disease and a significant loss of quality of life, particularly in the elderly, who represent the largest proportion of hospitalized patients. Bacteria from the oral cavity can travel to the lungs and cause older patients to contract hospital-acquired pneumonia, a serious and potentially fatal infection.

“Our primary goals with this program are to lower hospital-acquired pneumonia and to increase positive patient outcomes,” said Dr. Nimit Agarwal, a geriatrics and internal medicine physician leading the Division of Geriatric Medicine at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. He leads the Center for Healthy Aging at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and is the program director for the Geriatric Medicine Fellowship. “The simple act of removing the biofilm from teeth with regular toothbrushing can help prevent pneumonia.”

The Banner HOPE program, which is made possible through generous funding from the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation, creates a means to support patients across hospital units and departments through collaboration with nursing staff and therapists to identify barriers to dental care and facilitate access to proper oral health routines including brushing and flossing. An integral component of the program was the establishment of an oral health navigator at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

While the pilot program specifically addressed the brushing and flossing routines of patients aged 65 and older and adults with disabilities, the protocol now being shared across the system is designed to serve all adult patients. The partnership also includes development and delivery of patient oral health care training for nurses and patient care assistants.

“Delta Dental of Arizona is a long-time advocate of increasing collaboration between dental and medical providers to reduce barriers to care. Studies continue to show that Medical-Dental Integration (MDI) improves positive health outcomes in vulnerable populations, such as seniors and those in need of chronic disease management. The Banner HOPE program directly supports our mission to create a path to better health and wellness and healthier lives for everyone by expanding access to care, advancing health equity through systemic change, and building resilient communities,” said Michael Jones, president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Arizona.

“The HOPE program is a shining example of the power of philanthropic investment to fuel innovation at Banner,” says Dr. Marjorie Bessel, Chief Medical Officer for Banner Health. “This funding allowed us to create a new and unique program to address an unmet need among vulnerable patients. Thanks to these resources, our team has been able to implement the program, collect useful data, and now expand its reach to serve all of our adult patients in six states. This is clearly a strong return on investment, and we are so thankful to Delta Dental Foundation of Arizona for partnering with us on this important initiative.”

The full list of Banner Health System’s acute care facilities where the HOPE program protocol will be available for implementation with adult patients:

Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, Phoenix
Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, Tucson
Banner – University Medical Center South, Tucson
Banner Baywood Medical Center, Mesa
Banner Behavioral Health Hospital, Scottsdale
Banner Boswell Medical Center, Sun City
Banner Casa Grande Medical Center, Casa Grande
Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center, Sun City West
Banner Desert Medical Center, Mesa
Banner Estrella Medical Center, Phoenix
Banner Gateway Medical Center, Gilbert
Banner Goldfield Medical Center, Apache Junction
Banner Heart Hospital, Mesa
Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Gilbert
Banner Ironwood Medical Center, San Tan Valley
Banner Ocotillo Medical Center, Chandler
Banner Payson Medical Center, Payson
Banner Thunderbird Medical Center, Glendale
Page Hospital, Page
University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson

Banner Lassen Medical Center, Susanville

Banner Fort Collins Medical Center, Fort Collins
Banner North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley
Banner McKee Medical Center, Loveland
Sterling Regional MedCenter, Sterling
East Morgan County Hospital, Brush

Ogallala Community Hospital, Ogallala

Banner Churchill Community Hospital, Fallon

Banner Wyoming Medical Center

This is one of many investments Delta Dental of Arizona has made to support access to health and wellness statewide. According to the Delta Dental Institute’s 2022 Community Impact Report highlighting the philanthropic investments that Delta Dental made last year to support the oral and overall health of communities across the country, Delta Dental of Arizona contributed $1,495,967, positively impacting more than 295,125 people in 2022 alone. The report, issued annually, shared several of Delta Dental of Arizona’s key programs and initiatives such as its partnership with Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) on Dental Connect, its partnership with Arizona PBS to educate children on good oral health, the Delta Dental of Arizona Oral Health Clinic at St. Vincent de Paul, and its critical work with Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Beyond this, during its 50th anniversary year throughout 2022, Delta Dental of Arizona also provided more than $740,000 in grants to support projects and services promoting good oral health practices and increase access to dental care among underserved children, pregnant women, seniors and – for the first time – adults; made a surprise donation to A New Leaf to support its Healthy Smiles for Life program; volunteered with St. Vincent de Paul and the City of Glendale; released a free “Mouth-Health Cookbook” in partnership with NOAH both English and Spanish; and more.