The Illinois Department of Public Health’s funding request under the "Grants to States to Support Oral Health Workforce Activities" (HRSA-22-050) creates synergies that enhance the capacity of the oral health workforce across Illinois. The project will initially target Cook county, South Central and East Central and St. Clair counties. Previous investments in developing oral health workforce now yield opportunities to place clinical and care team members such as Public Health Dental Hygienists (PHDHs) and Community Health Workers (CHWs) in health care settings in novel ways that will increase understanding of, access to, quality and capacity of oral health services in health professional shortage areas. The four overarching goals outlined herein have the ultimate objective of reducing the emergency department (ED) use by individuals who seek dental services more appropriately delivered in a dental primary care setting, expanding awareness of the PHDH as a provider type, and strengthening the ability and scope of the oral health workforce in Illinois; all are in alignment with statewide and national oral health strategies and integrate lessons learned from COVID-19 response around an intentional focus on health equity across programs: Goal #1: Implement an Oral Health Referral and Education Program (OHREP) to expand the role of CHWs using a high-tech, high-touch approach to oral health education and referral among patients to prevent "inappropriate" ED visits. The measurable outcome is reduced ED rate of visits for Non-traumatic dental conditions (NTDCs) in target communities in Illinois; South Central and East Central Illinois Counties by 5% by August 31, 2026. This addresses the HRSA 22-050 NOFO Program Objective 5e. Goal #2: Utilize the Illinois Public Health Dental Hygienists (PHDH) Program to further increase the accessibility of clinical services in public health settings with a focus on expanding services during non-tra
ditional hours and at non-traditional locations in the community. The measurable outcome is by August 31, 2026, to increase the number of community health center sites, by 12, in Dental HPSAs, with expanded clinical service hours/sites due to the adoption of PHDH as a provider type. This addresses the HRSA 22-050 NOFO Program Objective 5a. Goal #3: Develop a comprehensive Oral Health Learning Institute (OHLI) to deliver cutting-edge online learning modules across multiple disciplines. The measurable outcome is to provide at least 2-3 continuing/distance-based oral health education sessions, each year resulting in 20% of participants reporting one practice change 90 days post-training. This addresses the HRSA 22-050 NOFO Program Objective 7. Goal#4: Utilize Illinois Oral Health Surveillance System data as well as program reports, surveys, and interviews to improve understanding of current oral health workforce needs in Illinois and assess program impact. Measurable outcomes are to develop, implement, and share findings of a comprehensive evaluation plan in Years 2 and 4 using robust data collection, analysis, and reporting infrastructure that is the Illinois Oral Health Surveillance System. This aligns with the HRSA 22-050 NOFO Program Objective 12. The Illinois project will build on the strong, extensive, and long-standing strategic collaborations and partnerships among traditional providers, non-traditional providers, as the foundation of the projects outlined herein. This work will be completed through direction provided by IDPH's Oral Health Section in consultation with the Oral Health Advisory Committee and Illinois Primary Health Care Association. The project will increase access to timely care through engagement at the individual level through community-clinical linkages utilizing trained CHWs, increasing the capacity to provide additional care services by PHDHs, cultivating skills of dentists, and non-clinical support staff in evidence-based ways to meet
the needs of Dental HPSAs Communities.