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    Md. nets CDC grant for pilot using dentists to screen patients for hypertension 

    $500,000 grant to facilitate health checks for patients who lack primary care physicians

    Baltimore, MD (October 3, 2016) – The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been selected as a recipient of a $500,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is funding $3 million in grants during the next two years to six state health departments to strengthen intra-department collaboration between their chronic disease and oral health programs.
    Funded through the CDC’s Models of Collaboration for State Chronic Disease and Oral Health Programs, Health and Mental Hygiene will receive $250,000 a year over the next two years to involve its oral health program in developing and implementing pilot projects to improve the oral health of state residents while preventing and controlling chronic diseases such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and related risk factors such as tobacco use and obesity.
    “This initiative better enables us to better align oral health and general health,” said Public Health Services Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft. “By building a close working relationship between oral health and chronic disease programs, we will be able to more readily improve the overall health of Marylanders.”
    The Office of Oral Health and the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will focus on identification, prevention, and control of hypertension by engaging dental professionals to provide blood pressure screenings during routine dental visits and to counsel and to refer patients with previously undiagnosed hypertension to medical providers for further evaluation. The pilot project will be conducted in local communities throughout Maryland, including Baltimore City, Wicomico, Somerset, and Worcester Counties, and up to three additional counties. The identified communities were selected based on chronic disease risk factors, on socioeconomic levels and on access-to-care characteristics within their populations.
    “The American Dental Association estimates 27 million people do not have a medical provider – so, a routine dental checkup is a perfect time to also take their blood pressure and to screen for them for hypertension,” said Dr. Greg McClure, dental director for the Office of Oral Health. “This grant will not only help dentists identify hypertension, but will also ensure that those with hypertension get the medical care they need.”
    This funding will provide an unprecedented opportunity for Health and Mental Hygiene to build upon existing infrastructure and leverage synergies with similar programs and grants, such as the Maryland Tobacco Quitline, and state and local public health initiatives to prevent obesity, diabetes, heart disease and strokes. 
    To facilitate collaboration, Health and Mental Hygiene will convene a statewide Advisory Panel and engage local partners in identified communities. Resources, tools, and technical assistance to achieve the integration of oral health and chronic disease programs will be provided.
    According to the CDC, the ultimate goal of the “Models of Collaboration for State Chronic Disease and Oral Health Programs” grant program is to improve the public’s health by recognizing and treating a variety of oral health and chronic conditions by first addressing the need for collaboration and cooperation between state oral health and chronic disease programs.
    The six states will test innovative approaches to building communication between state chronic disease and oral health program staff; incorporating oral health into chronic disease management systems such as those developed to manage diabetes and hypertension; increasing collaboration between state safety net medical and dental programs; and fostering participation of oral health staff in the development of state chronic disease prevention plans. The other states that received funding were Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, and New York.