Chapter 1. Partnerships and Planning

Gaining Support

How do I describe the problem to convince potential partners of the need?

You may want to divide your data collection into two phases:

Phase I: The "quick and dirty" data that already are available on a Web site or by talking with someone on the phone, and

Phase II: More "in-depth" data that will take more time and effort to collect, often involving surveys (discussed later in this chapter).

Well-presented "quick and dirty" data and a couple of compelling anecdotes usually will get people's attention. Initial data collection may be as basic as calling hospital emergency rooms to ask how many dental emergencies they see, or calling Head Start programs or school nurses for the number of children they see in a year with toothaches.

This worksheet will help you decide how much information you want to gather now to tell your story vs. what you will need once you have a task force:

Problem Description Worksheet Phase I: "Quick and Dirty" Data Collection
Data Sources

Local Demographics (age, race, poverty)

Census Bureau external link
Local resources for low-income populations:
  • Number of dentists and ratio of dentists to the population
  • Number of dentists accepting new Medicaid patients
  • Number of safety net dental clinics

State dental board external link

FQHCs external link

Yellow pages

Dental offices to ask if they accept new Medicaid patients

Local or state dental director to identify clinics

Local need indicators:
  • Federal designation as a dental health professional shortage area
  • Safety net dental clinic capacity
  • Emergency room dental visits
  • Children with toothaches at school

Find Shortage Areas: HPSA by State & County external link
or the state primary care office external link

Clinics, to find out about waiting times for appointments

Local hospital emergency rooms

School nurses and Head Start programs

State data (oral health status, resources, dental care utilization, prevention programs)
  • What is caries, and how prevalent is it in your state?

Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors: State oral health programs external link

National Oral Health Surveillance System State Profiles external link

Synopses of State and Territorial Dental Public Health Programs external link

Behavioral Risk Surveillance System, by State external link

National Prevalence Data

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2000. Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General. pdf Rockville, MD: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

CDC's State-Based Programs external link

Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health external link

Medical Expenditure Survey Panel Topics: Dental external link

National Oral Health Surveillance System external link

Both quantitative data (measurements) and qualitative data (descriptions) will be helpful. Package statistics and anecdotes so they tell a compelling story. Mission of Mercy events, held across the country, often generate media coverage that describes both the scale of need and moving personal stories. Search online for articles; there may be video, too.

  • 900 tickets given out for Roanoke dental clinic, external link March 26, 2011, WDBJ Channel 7 News.
    "They came by the hundreds, all to get admission to a dental clinic in Roanoke for next week. It’s another start to the Mission of Mercy clinic, but this year, they have to wait in line twice. The line started before dawn. “I got here around twelve-thirty last night,” says Levita Fitzgerald, who was first in line. Upwards of a thousand people at the Advance Auto Parts parking lot in Roanoke, waiting until 10 this morning."

Present concise facts that convey a consistent message about a compelling problem with a solution. Although professionally-prepared national fact sheets external link serve as good models, local fact sheets word should be even more effective. Later on, you can use this fact sheet or a variation when seeking funding for your clinic.

While numbers are important, putting a human face on the problem makes it more compelling. These sample anecdotes may help you to frame your own stories.



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