The distances in Alaska are vast. Even when they’re not neighboring communities are often cut off from one another during the winter as waterways freeze over requiring snow vehicles where once a boat would do. DHATs are meant to bridge the gap of yearly visits from itinerant dentists by living in these communities where they were raised and understand the culture. Many DHAT providers have a service region that extends beyond the base community where they live. Neighboring communities can add 80 more residents here, 100 more there, sometimes doubling their patient load above the base community. Even short distances require complex travel, usually by plane, to provide proper oral healthcare services to those who would not otherwise benefit.
Jana SchuerchBased in Kiana
Employed by Maniilaq Association
“I was born in Kotzebue and grew up in Kiana where I spent the majority of my life. It’s clear that additional efforts in addressing the prevention of tooth decay in underserved Rural Alaska Communities are needed. As a Dental Health Aide Therapist I have the opportunity to work within a small community, getting patients out of pain, restoring teeth, and working on preventing dental decay. These efforts will ultimately slow the growing tooth decay in our region.