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.
Daniel B. KennedyBased in Klawok, AK
Employed by Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corporation
“I have been working for Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) as a Dental Health Aid Therapist since January, 2009. I received my certification on July, 2009. 2013 will be my fourth year working for SEARHC. I have practiced what I have learned at my training with many community projects that educate, teach oral hygiene instruction and prevention to Headstart programs, public schools, mothers and mothers to be, diabetics, and the elderly. I want to break down the fear barrier between patients and the dental clinic. It is an ongoing mission to convince patients not to be so scared when they come to the dental clinic. The majority of the patients have dental phobias partly due to the dental clinic located within the same building as the medical clinic.”