The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded Nevada Medicaid nearly $1.6 million over four years to create five new programs. 

These programs aim to develop oral health service delivery infrastructure by expanding who can offer services in Nevada. 

“Nevada faces significant challenges in addressing the dental and oral health needs of diverse populations, especially in rural and frontier counties,” said Dr. Antonina Capurro, Nevada Medicaid Deputy Administrator and the grant’s Principal Investigator. “More than 70% of Nevadans live in a federally designated Health Provider Shortage Area. 

This grant provides an opportunity to implement innovative and diverse strategies to address health care provider shortages in Nevada through the creation of oral health infrastructure and workforce development.”

It has been more than 10 years since Nevada secured this grant. The application scored 99 out of 100 possible points. Work to implement these initiatives is anticipated to begin on September 1, 2022:

• Develop a workforce pipeline to train high school students in rural counties in dental assisting and offer apprenticeships.

• Offer training for school nurses to provide oral health assessments, preventative fluoride, varnish, and connection with dentists via teledentistry during a dental emergency on school grounds.

• Create the Nevada Dental Health Collaborative for dental therapists, hygienists, and predental students to foster interest in dental public health.

• Implement an Office of Oral Health Innovation to conduct an annual needs assessment, develop training for Nevada’s dental workforce, and offer in-office support for dental professionals to advance practices around substance and opioid misuse/dependency screening and referral.

• Launch a community-based dental clinic in Tonopah in collaboration with the Nevada Dental Foundation and the Northern Nye County Hospital District.