The Delaware Oral Health Coalition (DOHC) was established by the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services in 2005. It is a statewide coalition that was initially composed of 21 organizations and was instrumental in the development of the First State Oral Health Plan. The DOHC focused on advocacy for oral health, oral health literacy, and integrated delivery systems for dental care. The DOHC became an independent corporation in 2010, but later decided that it could be more effective as a committee under the management of the Bureau of Oral Health and Dental Services. As such, it is now positioned to be the voice of all organizations that are interested in the advancement of oral health in Delaware.
An example of DOHC flexibility in partner relationships and in partner interdependency was the fulfillment of the strategy in the state Oral Health Plan to “Secure funding to build/upgrade a physical plant in Sussex County with full-time dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants.” The DOHC played a key role in the development of the 2010 Oral Health Infrastructure Enhancement and Feasibility Analysis for Delaware that led to the establishment of the dental clinic at La Red Health Center (LRHC) in Sussex County. As the report states: “one of the most viable and frequently applied options to generate capacity and enhance oral health access for the target populations is the development of oral health operations within an existing federally qualified health center (FQHC).” Thus DOHC and its partner La Red Family Health Center in Sussex County had justification for pursing an oral health facility in a high dental need area that resulted in the establishment of a large, modern dental clinic at LRHC.
Another DOHC initiative completed with the Division of Public Health was to sponsor the procurement of a dental van to be used primarily for the school-based oral disease prevention programs in the state. The van was delivered to the state in 2009 at a time when state revenues precipitously dropped preventing the hiring of staff to operate the van.
The establishment of the La Red dental program and the procurement and use of the dental van are examples of how DOHC engages partners to achieve objectives and modifies engagements as circumstances change in order to meet mutually defined objectives.