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.
Phylicia WildeBased in Toksook Bay
Employed by Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation
I have the experience of traveling to a faraway place in order to get dental treatment. As a child every time I had a toothache or cavity I had to travel to Bethel, just like everyone in my village. In Elementary School I went to Bethel many times in order to get my cavities and fillings done. One of the things most needed in the villages is a Dental Health Aide Therapist. When I was six I got as toy dentist kit for Christmas. I went to everyone in he house pretending to fix their teeth. After one year in training in Anchorage, and year 2 in Bethel, I now work as a Dental Health Aide Therapist for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation in Bethel.