QUINCY -- The Illinois Department of Public Health wants to hear about oral health challenges in the Quincy area.
As part of the process to develop the next five-year Illinois Oral Health Plan, IDPH's Division of Oral Health will hold community meetings across the state, including one planned 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, in the basement conference room of the Adams County Health Department, 330 Vermont.
"The purpose of the meeting is to get community stakeholder input on what we think are the needs, whether it's access, whether it's groups who need more oral health information," said Lisa Bilbrey, oral health consultant for IDPH.
The meeting will begin with an IDPH presentation and some questions to start the conversation with participants "to share with us what some of their oral health needs are," Bilbrey said. "Some of it's data, making sure our dental clinics have the data they need to write for grants."
The Quincy meeting will be the third after sessions in Chicago and Springfield. Other meetings are planned in Rock Island, Marion, Alton and Bloomington before wrapping up by mid-November.
Needs will vary from location to location, but "access to care is huge with every population, just making sure that people have the ability to get to a dental clinic," Bilbrey said. "Health education's huge, too, trying to get to parents and educating on how important baby teeth are and getting further dental checkups."
Adams County Health Department Administrator Jerrod Welch said participating in the statewide initiative is a way for the county to make sure it's bringing the region the best service possible.
"We were approached as a potential site because we've got a long history of having a dental clinic in the local health department and have brought a lot of good quality oral health care to our community for the last couple of decades," Welch said.
"It's a great opportunity to take community input and start to get a feel for where there still may be gaps in dental health not just in Adams County but in the region -- this is certainly meant to be a regional event with insight from a variety of stakeholders. Then we can start to make strategies that will help to address these gaps."
Information from the meetings will be included in a draft of the plan, which will be presented to an advisory committee after the first of the year and a statewide stakeholder summit likely in May. The five-year action plan should be ready to publish in late 2020.
Welch said several people from the department and the dental clinic will attend the community meeting, but he also hopes to see representatives from the dental society, medical partners and area schools.
"It's a good opportunity not just for oral health care providers but for others who are seeing the impacts that problems with oral health may have on someone's life," Welch said.
Good oral health is essential to good health and wellness. Untreated oral disease affects a person's mouth function, appearance, employment status, financial stability, confidence and ability to engage socially across all ages.
"What are barriers to the current oral health care system? And where can we go to make sure those barriers are reduced?" Welch asked.