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Inside Dentistry

July/August 2009, Volume 5, Issue 7
Published by AEGIS Communications

Shils Awards Recognize Social Responsibility in Oral Health

Innovative and inclusive ways to improve oral health can happen one community at a time. Dr. Belinda Carver-Taylor, a Maryland dentist with a practice augmented by a mobile van, employs Mrs. Alyce Driver in her first job after an internship in her training as a dental assistant. Together, they are part of a community-wide safety oral health network providing access to oral healthcare in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

They know very well what a difference this can make; Mrs. Driver is the mother of Deamonte Driver, the 12-year-old boy who died in 2007 from a brain infection caused by bacteria from untreated tooth decay.

Dr. Carver-Taylor was introduced by Dr. Hazel Harper Jones, who accepted the Shils Entrepreneurial Education award on behalf of the Robert T. Freeman’s Society. This local group spearheads efforts with schools, case managers, faith-based communities, and other local community groups to recognize local dentists like Dr. Carver-Taylor who are willing to provide care to needy children. The award recognized this effort because it represents innovation, creativity, and productivity, which are the operating principles for the Shils Fund.

This award and others were given at the annual awards ceremony for the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Education Fund on June 2, 2009, at the Union League Hotel in Philadelphia. Representatives of various dental groups and organizations, dental industry, and supporters of innovations to achieve better oral health outcomes worldwide were in attendance. Unlike other foundations, the Shils Fund has unique perspectives in recognizing entrepreneurial approaches to innovate or stimulate efforts to improve oral health, and has a special focus on inclusion and diversity.

This year’s awards recipients included the Robert T. Freeman Society, Goldie’s Place, the GlaxoSmithKline Oral Health Longevity Program, and Dr. Lawrence Caplin. Dr. Anthony Volpe was recognized with the new Shils-Meskin Award. Special recognition was given to Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md); Dr. Jay Grossman of Homeless not Toothless; and Miracle Corners of the World for their work in revamping the Tanzanian dental school.

Each year, the Shils Fund recognizes outstanding contributions in the community with the mission of stimulating and recognizing innovation that results in the improvement of oral health. The fund is named in honor of Dr. Edward Shils, who led the Dental Manufacturers of America and Dental Dealers of America for more than 50 years. With six earned degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Shils had a passion for entrepreneurial education and thinking. He succeeded in mentoring and inspiring each person who came in contact with him to be innovative, creative, and productive. Appropriately, the Shils awards are named after him to similarly inspire and enable new generations of dental entrepreneurs. Walter Cohen, chancellor emeritus at Drexel University and former dean at the University of Pennsylvania said, “Through this Fund, we are supporting innovative projects that exemplify what Ed Shils stood for and that we believe are so vitally important: keeping alive the pursuit of nontraditional initiatives that address all aspects of oral healthcare.” The Shils Fund is sponsored, administered, and supported by Oral Health America, the Dental Trade Alliance, and the American Dental Association Foundation.

The criteria for the awards include originality, uniqueness, creativity, reproducibility, and diversity. Dr. Volpe, a vice president at Colgate-Palmolive, reflected on his unique award this year by saying, “It was a great honor and privilege for me to have been awarded the Shils-Meskin Award. In fact, because of the prestigious names associated with the award, I truly believe that this award is the most significant award that I have ever received. Dr. Shils and Dr. Meskin both instilled in me the importance of teamwork in everything that a person or organization does, and I have carried these words of wisdom with me throughout my career in dentistry.” This year’s awards recipients are:

Prompted by his tragic death, the Deamonte Driver Dental Project waslaunched in November 2008 to help stamp out the epidemic of tooth decay. Its goal is to increase access andprovide a successful, sustainable model programfor other Maryland counties. Sponsored bythe Robert T. Freeman Dental SocietyFoundation, the Project is a school-based,grassroots effort thatfocuses on underserved children from low-income families in Prince George’s County. A wide variety of community partners include: the Maryland state oral health program; Howard University College of Dentistry; University of Maryland, College Park; Morgan State University; and local practicing dentists, several civic organizations, and local church groups. Guided by the work of Maryland’s Dental Action Task Force, oral health for children is now a top priority for the state of Maryland.

What began in 1996 as a one-woman operation has blossomed into a successful support center for homeless adults in Chicago. Goldie’s Place offers a unique integrated approach to enhance self-esteem, job readiness, appearance, dental wellness, and employability. The Dental Services Program serves more than 400 people per year to maintain or attain dental wellness through free dental services provided by volunteer dentists and dental student volunteers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). These volunteers perform routine dental services, such as extractions, cleanings, and fillings. In August 2008, Goldie’s Place opened the first student-operated oral healthcare center in Chicago, where students are also trained in offering expanded services and hours of operation to the homeless community there. The UIC student chapter of the American Association of Public Health Dentistry has been the driving force behind the project; Goldie’s Place is helping to prepare an oral healthcare workforce that is competent in addressing the oral health needs of underserved populations to work toward eliminating health disparities.

Launched in September 2007 by GlaxoSmithKlineConsumer Healthcare, the American Dental Association and the American Dental Association Foundation, the Oral Longevity initiative was designed to increase awareness about the oral health needs of older Americans. This program encourages patients to visit the dentist to learn more about oral health problems that impact adults over 60. They create a dialogue among dental professionals, mature consumers, and caregivers across the United States about ways to work together tomaintain and preserve oral health in elders.

Dr. Lawrence Caplin founded the Oral Health Impact Project, which brings quality oral healthcareto children at the greatest risk through partnership development. Based in Warrington, PA, the Project works with schools, families, dentaleducation programs, and other organizations todevelop a customized solution for each community. By helping toestablish a dental home, the organizationdevelops plans to provide preventive andcomprehensive care, provide patient education, and offer dentalhealthcare internships and externships. This program provides underserved children care, information, andopportunities with a lifetime impact.

The special 2009 Shils-Meskin Award recognizes thelifetime of achievement of Dr. Anthony Volpe, who has contributed to more than 250 scientific publications and presentations worldwide. With four decades of experience in clinical dental research, preventive dentistry, and dental affairs, Dr. Volpe has made contributions to research, organized dentistry, and international dental organizations. He is the vice president of Clinical Dental Researchand Scientific Affairs atColgate-Palmolive’s Technology Center.

In addition to these awards, several Special Recognition Award Winners were also announced:

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, where he still resides today, Rep. Elijah Cummings continues to be a true advocate for Maryland’s children, fighting to ensure that every child has access to quality oral healthcare. The Congressman’s many accomplishments include the introduction of Deamonte’s Law, which enhances the dental safety net and workforce by increasing dental services in community health centers and training more individuals in pediatric dentistry. He has also partnered with organizations that provide free dental screenings and educational materials to local Head Start students and their parents.

Dr. Jay Grossman is the founder of Homeless Not Toothless, a non-profit program that provides free dental care to the homeless and underserved in the greater Los Angeles area. Since its inception in 1992, Homeless Not Toothlesshas provided more than $1 million in free dental services through its nearly three dozen participating dental offices.

In rebuilding the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Science (MUHAS) Dental School inTanzania, the Miracle Corners of the WorldDental School Project showed that dreams do come true. The upgrading of this dental school to be comparable todental schools in developed countriesprovides the best clinical and educational facilities to the dental teamand people of Tanzania for decades to come.

In congratulating this year’s award winners, Stan Bergman, chairman and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc, noted Ed Shil’s perspective on social responsibility: “It is remarkable that today—more than four years since Dr. Shils’ passing—his teaching and work continue to be a common topic of conversation, and he remains a role model for so many dental industry leaders in how they approach and execute their business. Without question, Ed is still very much alive in our thoughts and in our hearts.”

A Call for Nominations for next year’s awards recipients has been issued by the Fund, with nominations due by January 1, 2010. The award criteria is listed at http://www.dentaltradealliance.org/news/shils-fund.html Questions about the awards and nominations should be directed to Ms. Kim Craig at kim.craig@henryschein.com.