In today’s House Committee on Health, we learned about Community Dental Health Coordinators (CDHC) and Lyme Disease. The presentations on CDHC offered innovative ideas about improving access to health care across North Carolina – and particularly, in underserved areas of the state. Topics discussed included the utilization of tele-dentistry to share diagnosis and treatments, expanding and enhancing access to health care, and efforts to overall alleviate chronic illnesses through better oral health care. Presentations on Alamance Community College’s CDHC program highlighted mutual benefits between the public and private sector, which have been demonstrated in areas around the country that have enacted this program. For example, hiring a CDHA graduate has shown to result in an increase of patients for that practice due to outreach, education, and transportation assistance for new patients in need of oral health care services. I commend legislators for providing a platform in which we can learn more about innovative ideas – especially as we continue to tackle health care accessibility challenges from which many people in our state suffer. Let’s keep the conversation going and the ideas flowing – let’s take a look at ways we can promote better access to health care throughout North Carolina, such as utilizing dental therapists, exploring license reciprocity, and allowing medical professionals to practice within their full scope of training and expertise.

The presentations on Lyme disease were intended to increase awareness on the disease, which was first diagnosed in Lyme, Connecticut nearly 43 years ago. The presentations, both from people who have suffered from the disease, highlighted some common misconceptions shared by doctors, patients, and the general public. Dr. William Rawls, MD, explained intricacies about the disease, including how it works, the range of symptoms, and why the disease is often overlooked or misdiagnosed. The challenges the two presenters faced – symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, etc. – are not isolated to their experiences alone. As Dr. Rawls’ presentation, “The Lyme Dilemma: Starting a Conversation” alludes, it is a worthwhile conversation to start…and in my opinion, an important one to continue.