Thanks to a recent grant award, Eastman Institute for Oral Health’s ongoing efforts to improve access to healthcare for patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) will be addressed through a new educational initiative.
The Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare (WITH) Foundation awarded Dr. Cynthia Wong $50,000 for a one year project to develop online training modules for medical and dental professionals to promote inclusive health for people with IDD.
“Most medical and dental schools provide insufficient training in treating people with IDD,” said Dr. Wong, principal investigator for the grant and assistant professor at Eastman Institute. “As students progress into residencies and clinical practice, many feel uncomfortable interacting and managing patients with IDD, negatively affecting the number of providers willing to see patients with IDD.”
Additionally, a study led by the University of Bristol revealed that people with IDD die, on average, 16 years earlier than the general population. Avoidable deaths were more commonly contributed to the lack of quality healthcare in the population with IDD, compared to the general population.
Other data shows that physicians and dentists have expressed that their knowledge of disabilities is insufficient. Wisconsin healthcare providers, for example, reported that communication barriers and complexity of social and medical situations limited them in delivering equal quality health care to patients with IDD.
“People with IDD should receive the same quality of healthcare as the general population,” stressed Dr. Wong. “This project aims to provide the skills to improve the access to and quality of care provided, promote inclusion for adults with IDD in mainstream medical and dental settings, and encourage patient-centered multidisciplinary collaboration between healthcare providers and patients.”
Dr. Wong, who will be joined by Eastman colleagues Drs. Adela Planerova and Erin Shope, said the curriculum will be accomplished through web-based learning modules, coupled with suggested clinical applications. Dr. Tiffany Pulcino, director of UR Medicine’s Complex Care Center and experienced in web-based training, will offer mentorship and support along with her staff.
The interactive learning modules, co-designed and co-led by patients with IDD, will cover topics such as healthcare access and disparities, cultural diversity and inclusion, risk of diseases and healthy choices, communication and interdisciplinary approach.
“We want to increase providers’ comfort level by improving their knowledge and skill set in this area and provide much better access for patients with IDD around the world,” Dr. Wong added. “We’re grateful to the WITH Foundation and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry for their support and partnership with this critical issue.”
The goal is to establish a sustainable and reproducible curriculum in training healthcare providers at all levels to understand the disparities, acquire the skill set needed to provide and appropriately deliver high quality care, and establish a multidisciplinary healthcare network to ensure the continuity of care for people with IDD. Dr. Wong and her team will collaborate with MCC Hygiene School, Special Olympics New York and Special Olympics International.
For more than 100 years, Eastman Institute for Oral Health has had a significant impact around the world in research and clinical training and continues to carry on George Eastman’s legacy by helping the underserved and people with special and medically complex needs.
In recent years, several Eastman Institute faculty have been recognized nationally for their leadership in advocacy, improving access, education, community service and innovation as it relates to treating patients with IDD. EIOH has received millions in federal and private funding for unique training and treatment initiatives.
UR Medicine’s successful Complex Care Center is the region’s first primary care and dental practice dedicated to caring for adults with medically complex conditions and IDD. Renovations are almost complete for a new, unprecedented inter-disciplinary clinic at Eastman’s headquarters in Rochester, N.Y., designed to accommodate a wide range of patients with various dental, physical and behavioral needs.
“Whether our general dentists and specialists are working alone, or side by side with physicians, patients with special needs are getting the highest quality care and our residents and students are getting a superior education,” said Eli Eliav, DMD, PhD, director, Eastman Institute for Oral Health.
Established in 2002, WITH Foundation (formerly known as Special Hope Foundation) is a private foundation that focuses its support on organizations and projects that promote establishing comprehensive and accessible health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry’s mission is to improve the quality of healthcare for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.