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Medicaid was created to help bring essential healthcare services to the poor, but millions of children and youth who are enrolled in this government program still do not receive dental care. The system is in place, but from the perspective of many dental practices, treating Medicaid patients does not appear to be a sound business practice. As a result, these practices simply do not see such patients.

Newly elected Ashoka Fellow Jeff Parker sought to fill the gaps left by business and government through a unique social enterprise model that seeks to revolutionize the way the business of dentistry is handled. In this interview with Ashoka, he argues that treating Medicaid patients is a financially viable practice.

The chairman of the Anniston-based nonprofit Sarrell Dental Center was recently selected as one of five of the most creative social entrepreneurs in the nation for his work in meeting the dental needs of underserved poor children.

In this article you’ll meet five social entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of some of the U.S.’s most pertinent social problems. Through their content, tools, and organizational structure, they stay relevant to their constituents – making them active participants in spreading a solution, rather than recipients of a service. Like the many Ashoka Fellows before them, their work helps illuminate these problems through a refreshing lens of solutions and progress.

Dr. interviewed Jeffrey Parker, CEO of DentaQuest Healthcare Delivery. Parker, who recently became the first person associated with dentistry to make the annual HealthLeaders20 list, has long been cited for his work with Sarrell Dental in bringing dental care to 300,000 children annually at its 15 clinics across Alabama. Sarrell remains the largest single provider of Medicaid dental services in Alabama.

In the December 2013 issue of HealthLeaders Magazine titled “HealthLeaders20,” Jeffrey Parker was selected as one of the twenty individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Parker is the first ever to be selected from the dental field. The only other Alabama resident who has ever been named in the HealthLeaders20 is the famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrew.

A former secretary of Health and Human Services under a Republican president supports President Obama’s health care reform law, saying it is similar to a Republican-backed plan he helped develop 20 years ago. Dr. Louis Sullivan, the HHS secretary under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1993, said Friday during a visit to Anniston that despite its flaws, the Affordable Care Act will benefit millions of uninsured, low-income Americans. Sullivan visited Anniston to tour the Sarrell Dental Center to learn how the facility provides affordable care to low-income children.

Anniston-based Sarrell Dental Center announces a new affiliation with Massachusetts-based DentaQuest. The affiliation aims to provide better oral care to more Americans. Sarrell Dental operates 15 clinics across the state to serve children from low-income families. DentaQuest works to improve better oral health for low-income families, including those living in Alabama. Jeffrey Parker will continue serving as the CEO of Sarrell Dental while also acting as the CEO of DentaQuest’s health care delivery. The affiliation will not affect the staffing at the Sarrell Dental Centers across the state.

Today, Massachusetts-based DentaQuest Care Group and Alabama-based Sarrell Dental announced they are forming an affiliation to advance their shared mission to improve oral health. The affiliation between the two non-profits was fully supported by both organizations’ Boards of Directors. Both organizations have been leaders in exploring innovative ways of addressing the oral health crisis in America.

Three promising trends in innovation stand to bring health services within reach of patients that have traditionally struggled to access care. But these trends aren’t about new drugs or scientific discoveries—instead, they’re being driven by innovators who are employing creative business models to deliver heath services like never before.

It is not every day that local children get a chance to learn the game of basketball from University of Alabama basketball players, but on Saturday that was the case at the Sarrell Dental Center Basketball Camp.

Dr. Warren Sarrell
Chief Medical Officer

(256) 741-7340