The award recognizes individuals who are going above and beyond to expand access to equitable oral and health care, and provides a $5,000 charitable contribution to an organization designated by each awardee. 

DentaQuest announced its 2020 Health Equity Heroes—Heroes in the Time of COVID-19. Now in its sixth year, the DentaQuest Health Equity Heroes awards program celebrates individuals who are going above and beyond to expand access to equitable oral and health care. 

“Coronavirus exposed stark truths about our nation’s long-standing health disparities, hitting low-income communities especially hard and highlighting gaps in health literacy, access to care and trust in our systems of care,” said DentaQuest President and CEO Steve Pollock. “DentaQuest is proud to once again highlight the outstanding work of individuals who are responding to the health challenges of our time. The 2020 Health Equity Heroes in the Age of COVID-19 are bright spots that give us a glimpse of our country’s potential for compassion and change.” 

In addition to celebrating and promoting the contributions of the 2020 Health Equity Heroes, DentaQuest is providing a $5,000 charitable contribution in the name of each hero to a nonprofit committed to promoting health equity.

The 2020 DentaQuest oral care-focused Health Equity Heroes in the Time of COVID-19 are:

  • Jeanette MacLean, DDS, DABPD, FAAPD, pediatric dentist-owner of Affiliated Children’s Dental Specialists, Arizona, an advocate for minimally invasive dentistry, used the time in March and April when many dental offices and dental schools closed due to COVID-19 to introduce her peers to effective techniques that arrest and treat decay with little or no aerosols. MacLean’s webinars and resources on social media channels are a guide for dental care professionals looking to adopt silver diamine fluoride (SDF), Icon Resin Infiltration and silver modified atraumatic restorative treatment (SMART). MacLean is supporting the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Foundation with her award.
  • Dr Tim Garvey of the University of Florida College of Dentistry focused on access to dental care for individuals with disabilities and special health care needs—an underserved population that has had unique challenges during the pandemic. These patients need continued, routine oral health care, but their medical and physical state requires providers like Garvey to design modifications in delivery of care beyond the routine. Garvey is supporting FreeDOM Clinic of Marion County with his award.
  • Flavia Lamberghini, DDS, MS, MPH, FAAPD, pediatric dentist and UIC Clinical Assistant Professor, founded Apple Dental Care in Chicago to deliver trauma-informed dentistry for at-risk children regardless of socioeconomic status or coexisting medical and behavioral health conditions. During COVID-19, the care team helped stressed families connect to longer-term specialized help. Pre-COVID-19, Apple Dental Care provided in-school oral health care to more than 10,000 children a year at 36 Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Through the pandemic, it has been a referral site for CPS dental emergencies. Lamberghini is directing her award to the Apple Dental Care Foundation.
  • Dr Katherine Collier is known as a trusted access point for culturally appropriate, quality dental care among low income, at-risk communities of color in East Baltimore and a teacher of preventive home dental care. During the worst of the pandemic, Collier continued seeing patients at Quest Dental and Spectrum Dental, providing emergency care and pain management. That kept her patients, many of whom are essential workers managing multiple complex health issues, away from overcrowded hospital emergency departments. Collier asked that her award support the Black Mental Health Alliance.
  • Dr Aidee Nieto-Herman’s passion to improve the oral health and well-being of the Hispanic community led her to establish the Massachusetts Hispanic Dental Association and the Hispanic International Mission. In addition to working as a periodontist and professor at Tufts University School of Dentistry during the pandemic, she launched a research project to understand “Heath Disparities as a Result of COVID-19” among underserved communities. Nieto-Herman is supporting the Hispanic International Mission with her award.
  • Sarah Bedard Holland and Virginia Health Catalyst quickly refocused from oral health advocacy to the needs of the dental care safety net and home care providers across Virginia. They sifted through the firehose of information and guidelines from the ADA, the State and the Virginia Dental Society to extract and share actionable nuggets—in multiple languages and formats—to guide front-line health workers in delivering quality care safely. As it looks ahead to the next phase of COVID-19, Virginia Health Catalyst is widening its framework of action to advocate for policies that reinforce the importance of structural, moral and social determinants of health, all of which sit beneath the surface of lifelong health, equity and social justice. Sarah designated Housing Families First for her award.
  • Dr Ritika Chandra of Community Health Center of Snohomish County, Washington, rapidly stood up a teledentistry program as the pandemic hit her county. Teledentistry visits kept high-risk patients who needed immediate dental care away from overtaxed hospital emergency departments. The Health Center is the core of the county’s health care safety net, serving families who face financial barriers, limited health literacy, limited transportation and child care, and significant dental anxiety.