This week was another great week! Monday, we had our clinic team meeting where most of our staff was present. It was fantastic to hear what everyone else at the clinic was doing and look at the big picture of our clinic activities, short-term and long-term plan. I spent the rest of the day researching for my other projects, such as learning about how clinics that have won large awards run their staffing and clinic operations and sent out emails and confirmations to sites and volunteers.
Tuesday, we had another outreach visit with the WARM Summer Kids Lunch Club in Westerville at Brookeville Apartments. This event was much smaller than last week’s events, so Megan and I spent more time with each kid. We also gave a whole group presentation of our activities and games. The kids loved trying to brush the Kool Aid, soda, and tea stains off the hardboiled eggs. We talked about our activities with almost everybody at the event – even the staff! There was a staff member from Children’s Hunger Alliance at the event, as well. She was playing with the kids while integrating basic nutrition and healthy eating education. Her presentation aligned very closely with what we were talking about, so she was able to round up most of the kids at the event so we could give a presentation to them! I’ve presented our activities to groups before, but I especially enjoyed this group presentation because kids from as young as four years old to fifth graders were in this group. While we were going through our large group activities and then while we split up to do our games, the older ones really stepped up to teach their younger sibling and the other younger children.
On Wednesday, I spent the whole day at the clinic catching up on confirmation and thank you emails to our volunteers and outreach sites, working a little on my Oral Health Champion proposal, and researching and contacting potential partners, including the Central Ohio Association of School Nurses and Ohio Association of School Nurses. Before I reached out to the school nurses groups, I made sure to completely read many of the resources on the websites of each organization. I learned the different types of school nurses and the licensure process of becoming a Licensed School Nurse (LSN) so the nurse can work independently. The Oral Health Champion Proposal is a project I want to try which engages school administrators and LSNs to learn about the importance of oral health, the current crisis in access to dental care, and the services KidSMILES offers to fill the gap in access to dental care. I also went by our clinic storage unit for over an hour with our dental assistant to move clinic materials and help start organizing our clinic inventory. KidSMILES is really fortunate to have a great relationship with corporate and other organizations that donate lots of materials for the clinic. One big task for me this summer will be to take inventory and organize our materials!
On Thursday, I spent the entire day at the clinic working on finalizing a list and plan to reach out to schools within a 15-mile radius of our clinic. One goal we have for the summer is to start creating partnerships and conversations with Columbus City Schools and other schools that we haven’t had the chance to visit before to be able to visit them in the fall. I compiled a list of contact information of names, emails, phone numbers, and office numbers of principals of my list of schools, which took MUCH longer than I thought it would! However, it was worth the time, because I will be reaching out and hopefully meeting in person with these principals. Not only am I interested in helping KidSMILES make these contacts, but I am personally interested in learning the perspective of school administrators of their students’ oral health and overall health. I always hear statistics of how lack of dental care causes oral health problems in children that detract from learning and lead to missed school, not to mention the financial burden on families as a result of this. I also stayed for the beginning of our scheduled clinic in the evening, where I got to meet our two volunteer dentists, Dr. Sakamoto, who serves on the leadership board of KidSMILES and Dr. Tzagournis, as well as briefly introduce myself to some of their staff.
On Friday, I attended the Franklin County Free Clinics Roundtable discussion all morning. it was located at the offices of Physicians Care Connection, which is an organization that coordinates voluntary health care services in Franklin County. The group helps low-income individuals to find and navigate the health care resources available to them by connecting them to medical homes and improves access by reducing delays to general and specialty care. It was amazing to see how free clinics in central Ohio worked so closely together and how united they are in their mission of helping Ohioans. I talked to several staff members and clinicians from several of these organizations, including Vineyard Free Clinics, Mental Health America, Physicians Care Connection, the Ohio Association of Free Clinics, and more staff members. I also started thinking about ways these clinics could work together to effectively provide for all health needs of individuals in central Ohio. I’ll let those ideas simmer and hopefully I will think of something impactful! I took off early on Friday to go to Cleveland for a conference on Asian American health in Ohio. I’m not familiar with the topics presented at the conference or these populations’ experiences in Ohio, so I’m looking forward to an informative and fun weekend!