Central Valley Health Policy Institute to examine Valley’s oral health inequities

When a national oral health advocacy organization, the DentaQuest Foundation, asked Fresno State University’s Central Valley Health Policy Institute (CVHPI) to examine the state of oral health in the region and take a grassroots approach to prioritizing needs, it made perfect sense. It was essentially a continuation and expansion of the institute’s ongoing efforts.

“We were interested immediately,” said CVHPI Executive Director John Capitman. “We knew from our prior work that this was an important challenge and that we could reach back to some of our prior colleagues and collaborators to work on this.”

Photo Credit: dentalcareforchildren.ca

In 2012, CVHPI published a study in collaboration with an ongoing national initiative by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies called Place Matters. The goal was to identify and reduce health disparities caused by social, political and environmental conditions. CVHPI found some startling discrepancies in life expectancy rates in the San Joaquin Valley based on where a person lived — gaps as wide as 21 years depending on the ZIP code. Another startling finding: The rate of premature death in the lowest-income ZIP codes of the Valley is nearly twice that of those in the highest-income areas.

Now the institute will look at oral health disparities. “Our approach here is to both understand how individuals throughout our region think about, feel about, and experience oral health services and also to begin to build a network of activists interested in oral health,” said Capitman.

The effort is part of DentaQuest Foundation’s new Grassroots Engagement Initiative to improve the infrastructure of oral health systems at the community level. The foundation is partnering with 20 grantees from six different states, including six organizations in California; the others are in the Bay Area and Southern California.

Grantees like CVHPI are often the social justice experts who know or can find out what oral health looks like in their communities and can network and develop strategies to engage key players, said Andrew Bishop, a grants and programs associate for DentaQuest Foundation.

The project relies on “true authentic engagement. It’s completely community driven. It comes from the ground up,” said Bishop. “It gets to the hallmark of what DentaQuest prides itself on. It’s an iterative process.”

Photo Credit: bloximages.com

The initiative kicked off in March of this year and is part of the foundation’s Oral Health 2020 campaign, which emphasizes oral health in public education, improved dental care for children, and expansion of dental benefits under Medicare and Medicaid. Grantees will receive $100,000 in the first year.

“We have been working to develop a group of stakeholders across the country into a network around improving oral health,” said Michael Monopoli, director of policy and programs at DentaQuest Foundation. “CVHPI was chosen not only because it has a strong relationship with community organizations, but also because it has a presence in Sacramento.”

“A lot of the issues and specific solutions are system of care solutions,” said Capitman. “Engagement of the public is really important but also engagement of folks involved in the caregiving system. How do we build an oral health movement?”

Although the project is just getting underway, Capitman said there are already a couple of important issues that stand out. For one, there are no comprehensive data on the services available in the Valley and the challenges that service providers face.

“Right now we haven’t had, for any valley county, an oral health access and quality assessment,” said Capitman. “It’s a part of health care that nobody has really looked at in our region in a systematic way in recent years.”

But there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that suggests there’s a shortage of services, said Capitman. And preliminary data suggest an excessive and significant rate of emergency department visits and hospitalizations due to poor oral health. “And that reflects poor access to care,” he said.

Photo Credit: localdentist.pro

CVHPI published an oral health survey of federally qualified health centers that offer dental care in a 12-county area in Central California in 2009. The six-year-old survey found that dentists were concentrated in urban cores, such as northwest Fresno, far away from low-income communities. The earlier Place Matters study found much higher life expectancy rates in northwest Fresno than in poorer parts of the city. Capitman said a high proportion of dentists in the survey didn’t serve Denti-Cal patients and said they were not equipped to serve Spanish speakers. “I don’t have [a] strong reason to think that it’s all that much different now,” he said.

There’s a reason many dentists don’t accept Denti-Cal.

Reimbursement rates are so low that dentists aren’t even able to cover their costs, said Marlene Bengiamin, research director at CVHPI. The valley is also considered a medically underserved area. “There are lots of places where there’s not much access to professionals,” she said.

Oral health has been on the sidelines for a long time, said Bengiamin, just like mental health. There needs to be more education early on about preventive care, she said. Studies show that unhealthy teeth affect the whole body and oral diseases are often linked to chronic disease.

At this early stage, CVHPI has formed a steering committee that represents various groups and interests. These include community-based organizations like Centro La Familia and federally qualified health centers like Clinica Sierra Vista. Eventually a larger stakeholder group will help establish priorities for improved oral health care. The institute will also have focus groups and other kinds of data collection.

California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and Vision y Compromiso are two of the other grantees in California. Capitman said the groups will work together to come up with a strong statewide initiative. “We think California can make progress,” he said.


This article is reprinted from California Healthline, a free, daily online news service funded by nonpartisan California HealthCare Foundation and distributed by Associated Press. Originally published on June 25, 2015.

In the News: Paul Ogden discusses Silent Garden with Univision

Dr. Paul Ogden, professor emeritus of Deaf Education at Fresno State, and Desiree Castro, CEO of Personalized Education Inc. and Deaf Education alumnus, stopped by Univision 21’s morning talk show Arriba Valle Central with host, Sayra Vasquez, to discuss the Silent Garden Program and future plans to provide a workshop specifically for Latinos, who make up the largest minority within the deaf community.

There are very few services that offer resources to this deaf population and their Spanish-speaking families, but Ogden hopes to change that. He is the author of “El Jardin Silencioso: Criando A Su Hijo Sordo” – a book and resource guide for Spanish-speaking parents and families who are not familiar with deafness or hearing loss. The book is one of the first of its kind nationally.

Through Personalized Education Inc., Castro and her team provide tailored educational plans for students with special needs, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing or have speech and language difficulties. In the California school system alone, Latino students who identify as deaf or hard of hearing make up 50-60% of the population.

In February, the fourth annual Silent Garden Lecture will address this topic and will feature Irma Sanchez of Los Angeles, who will discuss her experiences raising three deaf children in her bilingual home. The lecture, which will be entirely in Spanish, will offer opportunities for families to connect and share their own experiences – and receive much-needed resources.

To learn more about the Silent Garden Lecture, contact 559.278.5276.

Click above to view segment, filmed entirely in Spanish. Video courtesy of Univision. June 19, 2015.

Arriba Valle Central host, Sayra Vasquez, Desiree Castro and Paul Ogden.
L to R: Emily Trujillo, trilingual interpreter & Fresno State alumna, Vasquez, Castro and Ogden on set of Univision.
Behind the scenes at Univision Fresno.

Global Research Series: Sam Lankford’s Adventures in the Arctic- A Winter Games Study

Each month, we’ll be sharing the research and global adventures of one of our faculty members and/or students who have conducted research in his/her field of study, in our blog series entitled: Global Research Series.

Sam Lankford, Ph.D.
Sam Lankford, Ph.D.

While Fresno faces a triple digit heat wave typical of summer, halfway across the continent in the northern and arctic regions, temperatures remain chilly in the low- to mid-40’s. Come March 2016, temperatures are expected to be even more bone chilling – and Dr. Sam Lankford, community recreation and youth services professor and chair in the Department of Recreation Administration, hopes to be there to take it all in.

However, he’s not going there to escape the heat of the Valley, but rather to attend the 2016 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) in Nuuk, Greenland. The AWG is something he is passionate about, as he has been conducting research on the event for the past 23 years.

Photo Credit: AWG2016.org

The culmination of his research, along with his colleagues from the World Leisure Association, was recently released, via the Arctic Winter Games International Committee (AWGIC), in a report titled, “The Impact of the Arctic Winter Games: A Social Capital Perspective”. The report provides an in-depth overview of the positive social benefits communities experience as a result of hosting the Arctic Winter Games, which takes place every two years. Since Lankford has been involved, 13 different cities have hosted the games.

Lankford cites various social and economic benefits for host cities, including: 1) awareness of one’s own community, and respect for northern cultures, 2) socialization that provides opportunities for those in isolated areas to meet new people, 3) Some infrastructure updated or newly built, 4) increased volunteerism and individuals becoming more active in sports and community

Athletes compete in in the Dene sport of Pole Pushing. / Photo Credit: AWG2016.org

Held biannually, about 2,000-3,000 athletes from across Finland, Russia, Greenland, Canada and Alaska come together to represent their respective country in various activities and games that range from contemporary to indigenous. Athletes compete in sports common to the U.S. like basketball, skiing, badminton, ice hockey and wrestling. But what makes these Games unique are the indigenous sports, such as the Alaskan High Kick, Kneel Jump, One Hand Reach and Knuckle Hop to name a few. These are sports developed exclusively for use in igloos and small spaces, common in the arctic. Dene games like the Finger Pull, Snowshake and Pole Push are unique only to the north.

“The impact of the Arctic Winter Games on athletes, coaches and cultural participants is well understood,” said AWGIC President, Jens Brinch, in a AWGIC press release. “This report helps us clearly identify the benefits that host communities receive when they take on the responsibility for holding the games. The report provides some interesting observations on the leadership, social and health benefits that host communities can expect. In combination with the obvious economic and sport impacts, hosting the Games leaves a huge legacy.”

Athletes compete in Arctic sport. / Photo Credit: AWG2016.org

Because of his research on the Games, Lankford has traveled to various parts of the Arctic. His journey began in 1992, when he was a professor of recreation and leisure sciences at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. During that period, he also served as the director of the World Leisure Professional Services unit, which was contracted to provide research services for the games.

“At the time, I was publishing on the topic of the benefits of recreation participation, the social, personal, community and economic aspects,” said Lankford. “These studies were being used to justify recreation programs in Canada and the U.S. So researching this topic for the AWG was a natural progression.”

Sam Lankford (L) and Larry Neal. / Photo Credit: S. Lankford

He, along with Dr. Larry Neal, professor of Parks, Recreation and Tourism at the University of Oregon, were originally contacted by the Northwest Territories Municipal and Community Affairs and the AWGIC to identify whether or not goals for the games/participants were being realized. From there, Lankford and Neal developed a survey instrument while in Yellowknife, Canada, which is still used to this day by AWGIC staff.

Coming from the picturesque atmosphere that Hawaii is famous for, to the remote villages of the Arctic was a bit of a culture shock for Lankford, but a welcome one. He recalls one of his first research endeavors that led to him to Iqauluat, Nunavut Territory where he experienced extreme frigid temperatures of -70F – a far cry from tropical climate of Honolulu. Other memorable times include overnight stays in igloos, dining on arctic char, muskox, caribou, seal and whale – all basic food found in the arctic. These moments serve as further indication that the Arctic Games are no ordinary games and not what you’d typically see in the famed Olympics.

Athletes come from Inuit, Inuvialuit, Dene and Metis aboriginals, Scandinavian and Russian cultures.

Lankford in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. / Photo Credit: S. Lankford
Lankford in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. / Photo Credit: S. Lankford

“Most of them are from “fly-in” or isolated communities with a population of a few hundred,” said Lankford. “These games provide both the athlete and their coaches with not just opportunities to compete, but also a chance to meet new people, socialize with others and see new places.”

“They also get to be a part of a team, competing against people who are good athletes,” Lankford continued. “Many of the coaches were past athletes themselves and now give back by coaching and teaching traditional games and competitions. They now serve as role models.”

Lankford and a former student enjoying the Arctic Winter Games. / Photo Credit: S. Lankford

Although Lankford has now taken up residence at Fresno State, he still plans to continue with his research on this topic and hopes to attend the 2016 Nuuk Games, time permitting. In the past, he’s taken his students along to assist in research and experience the Games firsthand. If given the opportunity, he hopes to also take two recreation administration students from Fresno State along for the arctic adventure.

“Students who have attended the games for the research project said it was the highlight of their academic program,” said Lankford. “The students collect surveys, interview athletes, coaches and officials, while learning about a part of the world that very few get to experience.”


For more information on Lankford’s research, please contact him at slankford@csufresno.edu.

Scott Sailor named president of National Athletic Trainers’ Association

scott-sailorThe National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) will welcome Dr. Scott Sailor as its new president during the association’s 66th Annual Convention at the America’s Center in St. Louis, June 22-27. NATA is comprised of 39,000 members nationwide, all of whom are members of the athletic training profession.

Sailor is chair of the Department of Kinesiology and program director of the Athletic Training Education Program at Fresno State, where he has worked since 1991. He has been on the NATA board of directors for the past six years and has 25 years of sports medicine experience. Sailor succeeds outgoing NATA president Jim Thornton of Clarion University.

“It is a tremendous honor to lead the National Athletic Trainers’ Association and to help navigate the organization through the next three years as the health care landscape continues to evolve,” Sailor said. “I’m ready to take on new challenges and to work closely with our members and those they serve. We have so many new initiatives to champion on the advocacy, education and research levels, and I know we will continue to attain great success.”

Sailor is program director of Fresno State's Athletic Training Education Program./Photo Credit: Fresno State
Sailor is program director of Fresno State’s Athletic Training Education Program./Photo Credit: Fresno State

Within NATA, Sailor has held many leadership and committee roles as a vice president, district director and secretary. He is a recipient of the Far West Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame and Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer awards. He has also served as director of Far West Athletic Trainers’ Association and of the California Athletic Trainers’ Association.

Sailor is co-director and founder of the Central California Sports Sciences Institute at Fresno State and a member of the Central California Concussion Care Consortium and Safe Kids Committee of Central California, Youth Injury segment. His athletic training experience also includes Pop Warner youth football and the San Francisco 49ers, where he served as an intern.

“Scott’s lifelong dedication to athletic training and his overall knowledge of the association and the legislators, educators, school administrators, researchers, media and others we work with make him a perfect fit for the job,” said Dave Saddler, director of NATA. “We have every confidence that Scott will take us to new levels of opportunity.”

Sailor earned his bachelor’s degree from Fresno State in 1988 and his master’s from the University of Arizona in athletic training. He earned his Doctor of Educational Leadership from the University of California, Davis and Fresno State in 2004.

Scott Sailor (L) and outgoing NATA President, Jim Thornton, at NATA Convention. / Photo Credit: NATA
Scott Sailor (L) and outgoing NATA President, Jim Thornton, at 2015 NATA Convention. / Photo Credit: NATA


Read more: Bulldog alums vie for NATA presidential title. Sept. 23, 2014.

Central California Children’s Institute News: Infant Mental Health Web-Based Training Series Draws Hundreds

children3The Central California Children’s Institute recently hosted a 15-part webinar series to raise awareness and a better understanding of the needs of infants and toddlers and to share strategies for promoting healthy social emotional development in the early years. The Institute has been an engaged advocate by providing infant-parent mental health training to early childhood practitioners to reduce the likelihood of poor mental and physical health outcomes in the later years.

The webinar series was sponsored by the Infant Mental Health Community Training Institute at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. Local funding support was generously provided by First 5 Fresno County.

children6In total, 149 individuals attended the series! According to the survey data gathered at each session, more than 70% of participants were non-Fresno State affiliated. Several counties in the Central Valley were represented, including Fresno, Merced, Tulare and Stanislaus. Nearly 75% of attendees had not participated in the prior Foundations Infant Mental Health Trainings sponsored by the Children’s Institute, reflecting both the CCCI’s reach to new audiences in the region, and a strong level of interest in infant-parent mental health.  Almost 90% of participants worked for an agency that provides services to children between the ages of birth and five.

The webinar series began in January 2015, with the final webcast in April 2015.  The response to the webcasts was overwhelmingly positive! Special thanks to graduate public health student intern Amber Huhndorf  for her work on the evaluation survey, and Wendy Davis, Training Coordinator for her technical support.

For more information on the Infant Mental Health Web-based Training, contact Davis at wdavis@csufresno.edu.


Information for this blog is compiled from the Central California Children Institute’s Spring 2015 Newsletter. Please read the newsletter in its entirety at the LINK.

CHHS Spotlight: Garrett Mundell drafted to New York Yankees

GarrettMundellLook out New York Yankees – a Bulldog‬ is coming your way! We send a BIG [apple] congratulations to Garrett Mundell, who was just drafted as the 23rd round pick for the Yankees in the in the Major League Baseball Draft of 2015!

Garrett Mundell. Photo Credit: Fresno State Athletics
Garrett Mundell. Photo Credit: Fresno State Athletics

Garrett, of Lake Forest, California, played Bulldog baseball all four years of college, from 2012-2015. During that time, he was also a student of ours, majoring in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Administration!

According to GoBulldogs.com, “Mundell also split duties in 2015 between a starter and reliever role. [He] owned Top 5 marks in the Mountain West in ERA and opposing batting average. Mundell sported a 2.93 ERA as a senior (No. 5 in the MW) and .228 opposing batting average (No. 4 in the MW). He posted a 3-3 record along with four saves in 10 starts and 21 appearances.”

Congratulations Garrett! We can’t wait to see you take the big apple by storm.

#‎BulldogBorn‬ ‪#‎BulldogBred‬

Sign Language Interpreting Program helps students make strides

Emmanuel Akande. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine
Buchanan High senior Emmanuel Akande. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine

A bright and inquisitive smile flashes across the face of 17-year-old Emmanuel Akande. He sits near Sophie Powell, his interpreter intern, toward the front of his classroom at Buchanan High School. Akande is hard of hearing. And on this day, he bounces with excitement as he tells Powell about his upcoming class at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART).

The happy-go-lucky kid sitting in the classroom is a stark contrast from the student he was just seven years ago. At the time, he did not have an interpreter at his school. He felt hopeless and isolated — a victim of an educational system that lacked certified sign language interpreters.

Today is a different story. Akande is thriving and has dreams of one day working in the medical field.

“Having an interpreter changed my life,” Akande says. “Now I am able to learn just like everyone else.”

Like many hard of hearing or deaf students, Akande requires an interpreter for certain classes, such as lectures.
A qualified interpreter who is able to teach the lessons and accurately interpret what the teacher is saying is paramount for students who might have difficulty understanding more complex subjects like math or science.

Up until fifth grade, Akande did not have an interpreter, but that all changed when he transferred to the Clovis Unified School District.

Fresno State Interpreting intern, Sophie Powell, signs to Buchanan High student, Emmanuel Akande. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine
Fresno State Interpreting intern, Sophie Powell, signs to Buchanan High student, Emmanuel Akande. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine

Powell, a senior from Fontana, chose to enroll at Fresno State because it is one of only two, four-year interpreting programs in California. The 2013 California Special Education Personnel Data Report indicates that about 118 educational interpreting support jobs are currently vacant, and about 7 percent of interpreters do not meet state qualification standards.

Sandra Hart, interpreting coordinator for Clovis Unified, says the Fresno State sign language interpreting program addresses a major need for qualified interpreters in the Central Valley.

“Eight years ago, we started accepting interns from Fresno State and realized it was the perfect way to meet up-and-coming interpreters,” Hart says. “We’ve been able to hire them once they graduate because they come in with a better understanding of the educational setting, which is so important.”

Hart said out of the 18 interpreters in Clovis Unified, 13 are alumni of Fresno State.

Clovis Unified Interepreter and Fresno State alumna Michelle Tindall. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine
Clovis Unified Interepreter and Fresno State alumna Michelle Tindall. Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine

The Fresno State interpreting program was developed in 2002 to address the growing need of providing communication access for individuals who are hard of hearing or deaf. Between 10 and 20 students per semester are placed in internships around the Central Valley, including school, religious, deaf, blind and community settings. Each student is required to complete a minimum of 150 internship hours to earn a bachelor’s degree in interpreting.

“Interpreters have an important role in educational settings, because they facilitate communication, advocate for students and serve as language models who can provide a vital contribution to the cognitive, social and emotional development of deaf youth, whose needs are often underserved,” says Dr. Peter Crume, coordinator of the Fresno State interpreting program.

Through the program, each intern is paired with a certified interpreter who serves as a mentor. In May 2014, 16 students graduated from the interpreting program and are now working in the Central Valley.

“While interpreters certainly enhance the communication access for deaf individuals, interpreters also provide Valley residents with greater access to the deaf community,” Crume says.

There are currently 28 students throughout Clovis Unified who require an interpreter or signing aide.

Garfield Elementary first-graders Hailey Baroni (L) and Jazlene Jimenez (R). Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine
Garfield Elementary first-graders Hailey Baroni (L) and Jazlene Jimenez (R). Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson, Fresno State Magazine

Across campus at Garfield Elementary, first-graders Jazlene Jimenez and Hailey Baroni learn about shapes in Mrs. Gutierrez’s first-grade classroom as intern Courtney Dull, of Fresno, signs to them near the front of the class. Not far from Dull is Michelle Tindall, a Clovis Unified interpreter who serves as her mentor.

Tindall has been an interpreter for the past two years and is also a product of Fresno State, having graduated in 2012. She says the program prepared her for the workforce.

“The program is really beneficial in allowing students the hands-on experience needed,” Tindall says. “Without that experience of coming into the classroom and actually getting to interpret in that setting, you would miss out on so much in terms of learning the importance of skills and interaction.”

As for Akande, when he’s not writing songs or poems, he is dreaming of his future. The senior will graduate in June and has hopes of going to college in New York. It’s a dream that would not be fathomable without the proper interpreting resources that aided his education.

“My interpreters always encouraged me to pursue my future goals,” Akande says. “Now I’m so excited to see where I will go. It feels fantastic.”


Story written by Melissa Tav, College of Health and Human Services Communication Specialist, for Fresno State Magazine – Spring 2015 Issue. Read the full issue of Fresno State Magazine HERE.

Our College empowers students to take a whole body approach to improving the quality of life. Our faculty and students are dedicated to helping Central California live well. Click through the slideshow to the right to learn about each of our seven departments within our college: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Studies, Kinesiology, Physical Therapy, Public Health, Recreation Administration, School of Nursing and Social Work Education and Gerontology.


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