Oral Health

“Mission Possible: Using HIT to Integrate Dental and Medical Care,” by Colin Reusch of Children’s Dental Health Project, December 16, on the Connecticut Health Foundation’s blog. Reusch comments that electronic health records systems that integrate both dental and medical information “are rarely present.” I had never really thought about this important point. He also mentions the challenges of “lack of common coding systems, software, and interoperability.” Reusch suggests that this health information technology integration should emphasize the patient health viewpoint. And, for those asking why integration is even needed, he has some good answers. Also, Reusch reminds us in this important post that “oral health is an essential component of overall health.”

Mental Health

“Can Philanthropy and Government Work Together?” by Jo Carcedo of the Episcopal Health Foundation (Houston, Texas), December 3, on the foundation’s V1sion Blog. If the answer to this question is “yes,” Carcedo, who is the foundation’s vice president for grants, addresses the next question: How can philanthropy effectively “support government without supplanting its responsibility to fund the public interest”? Philanthropy can’t do it all, I have heard foundations say over the years! Carcedo’s post describes lessons learned when the foundation funded an initiative of the Houston Police Department and the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD. (IDD stands for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.) The initiative concerns “non-criminal, non-imminent risk mental health calls,” through the 911 phone system, that law enforcement personnel deal with each day.


“2015 AIDS Philanthropy Summit Opening Address,” by John Barnes of Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA), December 16, on FCAA Blog. Barnes, FCAA executive director, gave this speech at this December 2015 summit, which had the theme of “restoring urgency and renewing commitments.” It is now the fourth decade of the HIV/AIDS struggle. And Barnes says we already have “identified the tools” to end the AIDS epidemic, but we need to fight the complacency that is seen “in finding the resources to implement” those tools. “’Isn’t AIDS over?’” some folks ask. The blogger says that is not the case.

“Advocacy has driven every step of progress” made against HIV. However, Barnes notes, only 11 percent of philanthropic dollars in the HIV/AIDs area was spent on advocacy in 2014. That statistic is from a newly released FCAA report, which is chockfull of details on what foundations and others are funding, how much they are funding, and more. It is a useful publication for grant seekers and “philanthropoids” alike.

Smoking Prevention

“A Look Back at 2015: Tobacco21/KC a Win for Public Health,” by Jessica Hembree of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City, December 17, on the foundation’s Local Health Buzz Blog. Hembree, the foundation’s policy officer, reports that in November, both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas (including Wyandotte County) passed ordinances that will increase the age at which one can purchase tobacco products from age eighteen to age twenty-one. She explains why she thinks the Tobacco21/KC collaborative effort has been successful thus far. Factors include use of an alternative approach (for example, an earlier effort to raise the tobacco tax in Missouri had been unsuccessful) and the business community’s speaking out in favor of the Tobacco21 effort, which “made an incredible difference.”

In response to a follow-up question, Hembree said in an e-mail that since her blog post was published, Independence, Missouri, has also passed a Tobacco21 policy. “This issue has very much snowballed in the metro area, and we now understand that as many as a dozen more communities plan to consider Tobacco21 policies in the coming months,” she said. “We are in the process of creating a web-based toolkit to aid local communities that are working on this issue.”

Opioid Addiction

“Let’s Reclaim Obituary Page for Long, Full Lives, Instead of Tragedies of Addiction,” by Wendy Wolf of the Maine Health Access Foundation (MeHAF), December 15, on the foundation’s blog. (This was originally published in the Bangor Daily News on December 13.) Wolf, who is MeHAF’s president, says that when reading newspapers’ obituary pages, she has noticed “young faces increasingly interspersed” with those of deceased older folks. She later states that “Maine’s growing heroin—and fentanyl—epidemic is quickly gaining traction as a contributor to the number of young adults dying unexpectedly.” And many people’s increasing dependence on prescribed opioid medications to treat pain is fueling this epidemic, Wolf, a physician, says. She describes a recently announced Anti-Opiate/Heroin Initiative in the Pine Tree State.