Giving Voice: New dentist is making big difference at Oasis

When we temporarily closed the dental clinic in March, we understood the profound impact it would have on our patients’ oral health. Most of our patients have moderate to severe dental issues, requiring several visits to address the multiple issues that have impacted their ability to smile, eat, and sleep. Lack of fluoridated water, inability to pay for services, and years of deferred or delayed care are just some of the root causes for the dental issues our patients experience. Our patients rely on our free services to address dental issues and alleviate pain so that they can get back to their jobs and families.

We also knew that when it was safe to re-open the dental clinic, we might not have dentists who could volunteer with us, at least not immediately. Those in private practice are focused on keeping their businesses going, meaning they often work on Fridays – the day most volunteer at Oasis. Because many of our volunteer dentists are over 60 and in the high-risk category, we weren’t sure if they would return. As a result, and for the first time in our history, we hired a staff dentist for eight hours per week to provide care to our patients. This, it turns out, has been one of the best things to come out of the pandemic.

Dr. Flo Edwards started in early September and jumped quickly into action, providing almost $12,000 in free dental care during her first six weeks. She has delivered a wide array of dental services – comprehensive exams, extractions, and fillings – and our patients have been thrilled to have access to dental care again. My office is down the hall from the dental suites, and I have a front row seat to their smiles and calls of, “Thank you!” as they leave the clinic.

Being a dentist wasn’t necessarily the plan for Dr. Edwards. Growing up in Portland, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She headed to college in Illinois where she got a degree in biology and economics, minoring in classical studies. She had the prerequisites for medical or dental school and shadowed her parents’ dentist. But, teaching had appeal, and Dr. Edwards got her teaching certification from the University of New England. She taught at Bonny Eagle High School and worked at Spurwink for a while.

Dentistry, however, was still on her mind, and Dr. Edwards applied to dental school. Howard University’s College of Dentistry was at the top of her list. As a Black girl growing up in Maine, she had grown used to standing out and assimilating to those around her. The opportunity to attend a Historically Black University was a chance to be a part of and learn in a community with other Black students. As a daughter of a veteran, Dr. Edwards also decided to apply to the Army Officer Candidate School (OCS). As fate would have it, Dr. Edwards was accepted into both OCS and dental school. Through good advice and

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Some Hospitals Giving Back CARES Act Funds

Several hospitals and healthcare systems have “returned” CARES Act funding, according to reports and a federal database, though it’s not clear whether those funds were repaid or given back without being spent.

An analysis by MedPage Today also revealed discrepancies in public statements and reported distributions by some of the nations’ top healthcare systems.

HCA Healthcare, the for-profit hospital system based in Nashville, Tenn., said in a press release earlier this month that it would “return, or repay early,” its entire $1.6 billion in CARES Act distributions along with $4.4 billion in Medicare accelerated payments. Leadership determined the company didn’t need the money after netting a $1.1 billion profit for the second quarter, according to the press release.

But HCA’s COVID Stimulus Watch page, produced by watchdog Good Jobs First, indicates the company actually received $1.57 billion from general distributions — loans that are often tied to Medicare accelerated payments — plus $487 million in targeted grants.

That $2.1 billion total, derived from multiple data sources including Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data, is well short of the $6 billion HCA noted in its press release.

In addition, the HHS database has recorded only about $141.5 million accepted by HCA entities via general CARES Act distributions, as of Tuesday. An an HHS spokesperson said its dataset “only includes payment amounts formally accepted by providers.”

Researchers at Good Jobs First told MedPage Today that what public companies report publicly regarding CARES Act funds sometimes does not match HHS data. That has been the case with Tenet Healthcare and HCA, researcher director Philip Mattera said.

“HCA was not very clear in that announcement [the news release] about what exactly they are giving back or returning,” Mattera said.

An HCA spokesperson said he was unfamiliar with the COVID Stimulus Watch database and declined further comment for this story, repeatedly pointing to the news release to answer questions.

The American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals also declined to comment for this story.

The Provider Relief Fund, established under the CARES Act, involves both general distribution loans (which often include Medicare advance payments) and targeted grants for medical centers deemed to be most needy. But some Medicare funds are included in both categories and general distribution figures keep changing because they are based in part on providers completing forms, Mattera said.

“All of this makes it tough to pin down exact numbers,” Mattera said.

Similar discrepancies were seen with Kaiser Permanente. The health system said it declined most of the more than $500 million it was eligible to receive, according to a spokesperson and a news release. Both sources noted Kaiser Permanente “declined all of [the money] except for $11.8 million for Maui Health System, a nonprofit subsidiary of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.”

But Maui Health System actually received $17.2 million, according to the HHS general distribution database.

“Bottom line: we did not accept or keep any of [the $500 million-plus] except the money for Maui Health System,” the Kaiser Permanente

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Illinois Health Official Breaks Down Crying While Giving Update on State’s Rising COVID-19 Deaths

Gov. JB Pritzker/Twitter

The Illinois Director of the Department of Public Health broke down in tears during Friday afternoon’s press briefing on the coronavirus in the state.

While updating the public on the state’s rising numbers of COVID-19 deaths, Dr. Ngozi Ezike took a moment to herself, turning away from the podium as she was unable to hold back her tears.

“Since yesterday we have lost an additional 31 lives, for a total of 9,418 deaths. These are people who started with us in 2020 and who won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,” she said. “Today, we are reporting 3,874 new cases, for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.”

“Excuse me, please,” Ezike said as she paused to compose herself before someone brought over a box of tissues. “I’m sorry.”

Gov. JB Pritzker/Twitter Dr. Ezike

RELATED: U.S. Breaks Record for Most COVID Cases in a Single Day with More Than 75,000 New Infections

As of Saturday, an additional 286 people have died, bringing the total to 9,704, according to a New York Times database.

During her speech, Ezike told Illinois residents that she understands “the mental, social and the emotional toll that this pandemic continues to have on people.”

“Not just because I’m asking people, it’s because I’m feeling it and living it myself. I don’t get to live in some COVID-free bubble, exempt from all the pain and tragedy of this pandemic. So I understand how pandemic fatigue is striking everyone. It’s real,” she said.

“The way we work, the way we live, the way we play has changed, and the harsh reality is that the sacrifices we’ve made, that we continue to make do not have a future expiration date,” Ezike added. “And I know that that’s difficult.”

Illinois has been experiencing a rising number of COVID-19 cases, reporting an average of 4,131 cases per day, an 81 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. As of Saturday, there have been at least 370,134 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

“My message to you is to stay strong,” Ezike said. “I have never run a marathon but I have the utmost regard for those who have been able to train and plan and finish a marathon. But this is a difficult race when you can’t actually see the endpoint and I’m sorry that that’s the message I have for you. Nevertheless, I’m asking you to fight the fatigue. Fight the urge to give up on social distancing.”

Ezike added that residents need to continue wearing a mask, maybe reconsider attending large gatherings and continue to opt for virtual hang-outs.

RELATED: ‘Long Hauler’ COVID Patients Still Have Symptoms Months Later — and Most Are Women and the Elderly

“This is what we will have to do to bring the spread down in our community… Let’s please work together. I know many of you are healthy and don’t have a concern in the world of dying from

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Health Insurance Quotes Without Giving Your Phone Number

Getting health insurance quotes without giving your phone number is easy and something you should do right now. Whenever you are online do you stop when asked for your phone number and best time to call? I do…I can’t stand to be interrupted at home…especially by a salesperson.

Asking for your phone number is an intrusion most people avoid. The bad news is they are unaware of market conditions in personal health insurance. Health insurance is an expensive, necessary evil but it should be something you should never overpay for. Asking for a phone number is a turnoff. But there is good news…

You can get up to a hundred health insurance quotes without giving your phone number. You are asked for the following and the following only, for each person you are trying to insure:

· Zip code

· Gender

· Date of Birth

· Smoker or not

· Student or not

That is it…no phone number…no medical questions.

My wife and I have used this free, no obligation service for 8 years. I hate to spend a penny on insurance of any kind. But I have the assurance that I am paying the very least amount for my policy.

I filled this out just the other day…it took less than a minute…I received 112 different policy quotes to choose from…the quotes had the monthly premium, company name, deductibles, co pays, and a real plus…I could find out if my current doctor accepted this policy.

You should know what kind of policy you are looking for. Since we are healthy, exercise and eat right, we look for high deductible catastrophic coverage. These have the very lowest premiums.

But the prices vary greatly…I identified a savings of $684 per year over what I am paying now. So you should use this free service every several months. It is easy fast…and no one will call.

Once you narrow down the policy that meets your needs you then fill out one application and one application only. Isn’t this better and far faster than talking to several dozen salesmen or saleswomen. That is what you would have to do to get the same amount of information with every other service on the web.

Wouldn’t you rather get health insurance quotes without giving your phone number?

Here’s how…

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