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REACH CEO Emphasizes Power of Oral Health Integration

Reports and Publications

On June 25, Health Affairs’ GrantWatch blog published an essay by REACH President and CEO Brenda Sharpe and two health foundation colleagues, who discussed a new project that proposes a framework for delivering preventive oral health care in the primary care setting as a way to address inadequate access to oral health care and the high incidence of oral disease among children and adults.

The REACH Foundation partnered with colleagues at Washington Dental Service Foundation, a statewide funder, and DentaQuest Foundation, a national foundation, along with Qualis Health, consultants in health system improvements (Qualis Health has served as the primary technical assistance provider for the REACH Medical Home Initiative.), to develop a framework for delivering preventive oral health care in medical settings. In the essay, Sharpe, along with funding partners Michael Monopoli of DentaQuest and Laura Smith of Washington Dental, explains that the impetus for this work was the foundations’ recognition that even with years of important program and policy investments in oral health care access and delivery that new disease prevention strategies were needed to substantially improve oral health outcomes.

The Oral Health Delivery Framework outlines a set of activities, such as looking inside the mouth for active infection and applying fluoride varnish, that are within the scope of practice for primary care. The framework was developed with input from a national technical assistance panel comprised of dentists, primary care providers, nurses, practice managers, other health sector leaders and health policy makers.

Read the GrantWatch blog post, June 25, 2015

Read the executive summary and full report

Task Force Plan Focuses on At-Risk Children and Youth

Resources and Report

The Children and Youth Project Team of the Homelessness Task Force of Greater Kansas City, with assistance from the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), has developed an investment plan as a first step in articulating the needs of at-risk children and youth in Greater Kansas City and setting priorities for improvement, as well as identifying resource opportunities. The plan outlines five community goals, documents the scale of the need in the nine-county Kansas City region and assesses current capacity and strategies for addressing gaps in services.

The investment plan describes the extent of the challenges faced by children, youth and their families in the nine-county Kansas City region:

  • 134,570 children — 25 percent of the total population under age 19 — were enrolled in free/reduced school lunch programs in 2011, an indicator of child poverty;
  • 8,84 students were homeless and 3,662 youth were in foster care during the 2012-2013 school year;
  • 7,737 youth needed intensive substance abuse services in 2012;
  • 1,998 youth ages 14 and under, and 3,724 youth ages 15-24 were hospitalized with mental health disorders in 2011.

The report includes survey data from providers that describes current capacity across the region.

Read the executive summary. The full report is available on the Mid-America Regional Council web site.

The REACH Foundation and the Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City provided financial support for the study and investment plan.

From the President and CEO: Safety Nets' Journey to Becoming Medical Homes

Message from the President and CEO

April 22, 2014

Seven years ago, the REACH Foundation convened a group of health leaders, clinic directors, hospital executives and foundation leaders to examine the medical home model as an approach to expanding the capacity of the region’s safety net health care system and achieving improved health outcomes for patients. Nearly 80 people gathered with us over two days for presentations and discussions about whether Kansas City’s safety net health care clinics were ready to take on this model. There was quite a bit of skepticism among clinic directors and staff, but when the REACH Foundation launched its Medical Home Initiative late in 2007, there were four clinics that signed on to take the journey with us.

Last month, Qualis Health, a nonprofit health care consulting firm, published “The Journey Towards the Patient-Centered Medical Home: The Kansas City  Experience,” a white paper that describes the journey of nine safety net primary care clinics as they worked with a technical assistance team from Qualis to implement core principles and practices of a patient-centered medical home. The white paper describes the technical assistance and practice transformation with the clinics.

We believe this white paper tells an important story about a diverse group of safety net clinics that committed to re-examining their service delivery approaches to become more patient-focused. Their transformation efforts required leadership commitment, reorganization into health care teams, introduction of electronic medical records in clinics that were dependent on paper records, commitment to data collection and monitoring, rethinking of staff roles and responsibilities (and a lot of training to support new roles), and more.

Like any large-scale systems change effort, the transformation to a medical home model didn’t move in a smooth, linear fashion. There were slowdowns and setbacks along the way. However, each of the clinics made substantial improvements in access to care, coordination of care, and patient communication and patient experience.

What are some of the lessons learned? The white paper touches on several key considerations:

  • Engaged senior leadership is critical to success.
  • Safety net clinics can adopt empanelment and become “continuity clinics.”
  • Information systems can impede transformation depending on their functionality and ability to adapt to meet the clinic’s needs.
  • Transformation requires time and teamwork, and cannot be rushed.
  • Being patient-centered is a continuous process and requires ongoing growth and commitment.

To date, the REACH Foundation has invested more than $1.5 million in the initiative, including supplemental grants to support Electronic Medical Records implementation and other technology, care management staff positions, training of medical interpreters and more.

Read the full text of the President and CEO Message: Download PDF

Read the white paper: Download PDF


Region VII Health Equity Council Releases Disparities Report

Resources and Reports

The Heartland Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC), an advisory group representative of health and diversity leaders who work in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region VII area, released an environmental scan that provides data on health disparities and information related to social determinants of health in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. 

The report addresses particular regional challenges and disparities, including shortages of health care facilities in rural areas and provider shortages in Kansas and Missouri, income disparities, prevalence of obesity, and other issues. The report also examines assets that can be leveraged, including regional health care systems with solid national ratings, relatively low unemployment, and high education levels among the region’s foreign-born population.

The Heartland RHEC will use the information to promote public policies and actions that advance health equity and eliminate health disparities. 

Review the Heartland RHEC Environmental Scan (PDF)

For more information, contact Carla Gibson, REACH senior program officer and a member of the Region VII RHEC, at

Health Equity Program on Putting Disparity Data into Action

Community Event

The Missouri Health Equity Collaborative, in partnership with the US Department of Health & Human Services Region VII Office of Minority Health and the REACH Healthcare Foundation, will host “Health Equity for All Missourians: Put Data into Action” on December 4, 2013, 8 a.m.-12 p.m.

The half-day program is free and open to nonprofit health care, health advocacy, social service, governmental and other interested stakeholders working in health services, education, and minority health and equity fields. 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013 / 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m., breakfast; 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. workshop

Guadalupe Community Center, 1015 Avenida Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri 64108 (Map)


Program is free. Register here.

PBS Frontline to Air Feature "Dollars and Dentists"


On June 26, 2012, Frontline (PBS) will feature “Dollars and Dentists.”  The show description is:

“Dental care can be a matter of life and death. Yet millions of Americans can’t afford a visit to the dentist. An investigation by FRONTLINE and the Center for Public Integrity reveals the shocking consequences of a broken safety net. Poor children, entitled by law to dental care, often cannot find a dentist willing to see them. Others kids receive excessive care billed to Medicaid, or major surgery for preventable tooth infections. For adults with dental disease, the situation can be as dire — and bankrupting. While millions of Americans use emergency rooms for dental care, at a cost of more than half a billion dollars, corporate dental chains are filling the gaps in care, in some cases allegedly overcharging patients or loading them with high priced credit card debt. Correspondent Miles O’Brien investigates the flaws in our dental system and nascent proposals to fix them.”

For more information, please see the PBS website at:

What We're Reading at REACH

Feature: What we’re reading at REACH

In our work, we come across a number of news items and reports related to the REACH Foundation’s funding priorities and strategic goals. “What we’re reading at REACH” is a collection of links to noteworthy articles that have caught our attention.

Earlier this week, the Kansas Health Institute reported on preparations for the launch of the Kansas Health Information Exchange. Read the stories:

“Kansas breaks ground on statewide digital health network,”  May 28, 2012

“Health information exchange: An interview with Dr. Joe Davison,” May 28, 2012

“Public awareness campaign begins for health information network” May 23, 2012


National news of interest:

NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, conducted a poll on being sick in America with a summary report and personal stories.

The New York Times published an opinion-documentary by Peter Nicks, a filmmaker who produced a documentary on patients in the waiting room. The Op-Doc is adapted from the full length documentary and story-telling project, “The Waiting Room.” 



What We're Reading at REACH

New Feature: What we’re reading at REACH

In our work, we come across a number of news items and reports related to the REACH Foundation’s funding priorities and strategic goals. “What we’re reading at REACH” is a collection of links to noteworthy articles that have caught our attention.

Recently, there have been a number of reports and articles on the barriers to access to dental care. Following are stories and reports on this topic:

Kansas Public Radio produced two stories on the registered dental practitioner model that has been presented as one approach to improving the dental workforce shortage in Kansas:

The New York Times published an opinion piece by Louis W. Sullivan,  former secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services from 1989 to 1993, who wrote in early April about the national dental workforce shortage.

ABC World News produced a report on the difficulty children on Medicaid face in obtaining dental care

A report, Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Expand Access, was released and reviewed at the Senate Committee on Health, Labor and Pension’s Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging meeting on February 29, 2012.

Report: Dental Crisis in America, The Need to Expand Access

Resources & Reports

The report, Dental Crisis in America: The Need to Expand Access, was released and reviewed at the Senate Committee on Health, Labor and Pension’s Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging meeting on February 29, 2012

What We're Reading at REACH

New Feature: What we’re reading at REACH

In our work, we come across a number of news items and reports related to REACH Foundation’s funding priorities and strategic goals. “What we’re reading” is a collection of links to noteworthy articles that have caught our attention.

The Kaiser Family Foundation illustrates in simple graphic form how the individual mandate works under the Affordable Care Act.

A former REACH Foundation Board member has written a blog post on Latinos and health care in Kansas City, Kansas.

The Kansas City Free Health Clinic was recently featured in several area news reports on KCUR and in the Kansas City Star.  KC Free is a REACH grantee and participates in the Foundation’s Medical Home Initiative.

The New York Times has created an interactive map documenting “The Geography of Government Benefits” as part of a recent feature story.