Faculty and Staff, Outreach

Chancellor’s Visit Highlights Oral Health Care Issues

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser recently (Aug. 31) visited with FirstHealth of the Carolinas officials and dental practitioners and officials with North Carolina Area Health Education Centers Program, to learn how both organizations are advancing oral health care access.

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser recently visited FirstHealth of the Carolinas as a part of his Carolina Connects initiative. Pictured are, left to right: UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Public Service and Engagement Mike Smith; Chancellor Moeser; Yanci Evans, who directs health careers workforce diversity and dental continuing education for Southern Regional AHEC; FirstHealth Dental Care Centers Director Dr. Sharon Harrell; School of Dentistry Dean John N. Williams; N.C. AHEC Program Associate Director Jacqueline Wynn; and FirstHealth President and Chief Executive Officer Charles T. Frock.

The visit was part of the chancellor’s Carolina Connects initiative, which takes University officials around North Carolina to highlight the ways in which UNC-Chapel Hill serves the state’s people and its communities. School of Dentistry Dean John N. Williams and Vice Chancellor for Public Service and Engagement Mike Smith accompanied the chancellor on this visit to FirstHealth.

FirstHealth officials and dental practitioners who met with Moeser included Charles T. Frock, president and chief executive officer; Dr. George D. Bussey, chief medical officer; Dr. Sharon Harrell, director of the dental care centers; and David Williams, dental program manager. Harrell, a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, discussed FirstHealth’s integrated model of dental care delivery and its collaborative efforts with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry.

FirstHealth of the Carolinas is a private, non-governmental, not-for-profit health care network serving 15 counties in the mid-Carolinas. In 1997, school nurses, medical providers and state dental health officials determined dental care as the number one unmet need for underserved children in the region. Based on this information, FirstHealth established a comprehensive dental health program for underserved children from birth to age 18 through dental care centers in Moore, Montgomery and Hoke counties.

An estimated 20 UNC-Chapel Hill dental students have gone to FirstHealth since 1999 for rotations. In 2002, the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry received a five-year grant as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pipeline, Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education initiative. This grant has supported UNC-Chapel Hill in sending dental students to facilities focusing on underserved populations – including FirstHealth in Southern Pines – for training and service.

Also in attendance at the chancellor’s visit was Jacqueline Wynn, associate director of the North Carolina AHEC Program, and Yanci Evans, director of health careers workforce diversity and director of dental continuing education at Southern Regional AHEC.

Southern Regional AHEC is one of nine AHECs statewide. Each of the nine AHECs is connected with a medical school and is a member of the North Carolina AHEC Program, located at UNC-Chapel Hill. Southern Regional AHEC is affiliated with Duke University Medical Center, which supports its residency and continuing education programs.