News Release

October 30, 2012

OHCA Contacts: Jo Kilgore - (405) 522-7474, Carter Kimble - (405) 522-7510

OHCA’s Tribal Relations Unit Receives National Recognition

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is proud to announce that their Tribal Relations unit was a 2012 National Indian Health Board (NIHB) Local Impact Award winner.

The agency operates the SoonerCare (Oklahoma’s Medicaid) and Insure Oklahoma programs. The NIHB recognized OHCA’s Tribal Relations for their commitment to ensuring dental care to students at the Riverside Indian Boarding School in Anadarko.

“Your services, including SoonerCare, as well as your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss donations are ensuring that kids are receiving the proper education and services needed to sustain healthy teeth and overall good hygiene and health. Your devotion can help expand dental outreach efforts to other boarding schools in Oklahoma, and serve as an inspiration to other schools across the nation,” said Cathy Abramson, NIHB board chairperson.

In September, OHCA staff joined nurses and dental hygienists at the Riverside Indian School in a back-to-school event to evaluate the health care needs and provide oral health education for almost 500 students returning to the school after a summer break.

Nurses from Indian Health Services and OHCA were available to the students to take their blood pressure, measure height and weight, and test their vision as well as check other vital signs that are normally taken during a routine well-child check up with a medical provider.

OHCA’s Tribal Relations Director Dana Miller said the students were also evaluated for other medical services that might be needed and follow-up was prioritized according the urgency of their needs.

“Forty-eight students were Priority 1 cases, meaning they needed urgent dental care. Volunteer staff made sure these cases had follow-up appointments scheduled,” said Miller.

Sally Gunn, a dental hygienist, demonstrated to the students the proper technique for brushing and flossing their teeth for good oral health.
“Most of the kids don’t receive regular dental care, and some have never been to the dentist,” said Miller.  “It truly is so amazing being able to help these children and provide these necessary services.  The Oklahoma City Area Inter Tribal Health Board donated to each student a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss to help them maintain healthy habits. Although this was to help them, they were thrilled with the gift, and I was thrilled to see their smiles.”

This is the fifth year for the Riverside Indian School evaluation and educational event. OHCA’s SoonerCare program was the first Medicaid program in the nation to formally provide coverage to American Indian boarding school students.

“This event is the epitome of effective collaboration between federal, tribal and state partners to ensure the health care of these children,” added Miller.