Former Dimock Center Director Launches Equity-Focused Nonprofit Dental Care Organization

Minter-Jordan joined the DentaQuest partnership in 2019 – after 12 years at the Dimock Center, a community health center in Roxbury – and was Managing Director from February 2020 until his transition to the larger company. The CareQuest Institute will acquire the assets of the Catalyst Institute, the holding company of DentaQuest, which has 15 clinics in Texas, Alabama and Kentucky. The new company owns a full or majority stake in DentaQuest, Delta Dental of Massachusetts and Sarrell Dental, as well as a for-profit arm called CareQuest Innovation Partners.

The CareQuest Institute plans to ‘supercharge’ systemic change surrounding oral health care nationwide through grantmaking, research, education, policy advocacy and advocacy. innovation. In recent years, it has awarded $ 10 million to $ 15 million per year in grants to organizations across the country that share its mission. Minter-Jordan said the organization now plans to increase that amount.

The launch of the CareQuest Institute comes at a time when the pandemic has exposed long-standing inequalities, including access to dental care.

“The time has come for a company like ours to establish itself as a leader, unifier, partner and collaborator,” said Minter-Jordan. “Oral health is something we all need to focus on if we are serious about taking a comprehensive approach to health care that is equitable for all. “

The CareQuest Institute has conducted a national survey over the past year and found that approximately 6 million Americans have lost their dental insurance due to job loss or a change in benefits caused by the pandemic. The survey found that black Americans suffered loss of coverage at a rate that was more than double that of whites, and that Asian Americans were three times more likely than whites to have lost. their cover.

“Our health care system is broken,” Minter-Jordan said. “As we collect the data behind this, our goal is to help influence the transformation of healthcare. “

Minter-Jordan said the disparities are not new: Poor oral health has always disproportionately affected communities of color, poor and rural communities, and older populations.

Medicare does not cover dental care, and for low-income adults served by Medicaid, oral health coverage is not guaranteed. In October, The Globe reported that nearly 4,000 Boston public school students had not had the opportunity to see a dentist or hygienist due to distance learning.

“Oral health care, like primary care, faces serious challenges related to outdated approaches to care delivery, payment and data exchange that create systemic barriers to optimal health for individuals. million people, ”said Russ Phillips, director of the Center for Primary Care. at Harvard Medical School, in a statement. “The dedicated scientists, researchers, clinicians and public health experts at the CareQuest Institute offer not only a deep understanding of these barriers, but also practical solutions working with communities to advance real systems change. “

With its new independence, the CareQuest Institute will be able to advocate for policies at the state and federal levels. Some of the organization’s initial priorities include promoting the inclusion of dental care in Medicare and Medicaid plans and advocating for the continued uptake of tele-dentistry, which expands access to care, particularly for those with disabilities. people living in rural communities.

The association will generate income through its clinics, its participations in dental care companies and its for-profit branch, CareQuest innovation partners, which will serve as a “convener, investor and partner” in the oral health innovation ecosystem. The CareQuest Institute has approximately 50 full-time equivalent employees and plans to hire approximately 15 additional employees by the end of the year. By 2023, Minter-Jordan said the organization expects to double in size.

Minter-Jordan, recently appointed on the Board of Directors of BlueShield of California, sits on several local councils, including The Boston Foundation.

Anissa Gardizy can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @ anissagardizy8.