Be Adaptable

The ability to adapt to maximize program effectiveness and health outcomes is key to successfully integrating sustainable comprehensive oral health services into primary care in SBHCs. Community needs evolve, and addressing these needs can be challenging. Further complicating the challenge are the often fragile financial and political landscapes in which SBHCs operate. Continually assessing the effectiveness of program services becomes a delicate balancing act between adapting to changing needs and remaining loyal to proven approaches. By being aware of and responsive to environmental changes, SBHCs can withstand challenges while striving to continuously improve their program services.

SBHCs should think beyond their present circumstances, be creative, and remain open to new opportunities and options for implementing and delivering services. Keeping abreast of current and emerging trends, research, and other issues can help them succeed.

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Action Steps

  • Match program's services offered to community needs, and uphold the fidelity or best practice of the model being implemented.
  • Create opportunities for innovation, and make use of best practices that have worked for others.

Highlights from the SBCOHS Grant Program

  • Children's Dental Services (MN) worked with the student council community to increase awareness of the oral health services offered by the SBHC and with a local Somali mutual assistance organization to address cultural barriers related to immigration. The SBHC also incorporated positive cultural oral health practices into its patient education.
  • Health Mobile (CA) hired a bilingual immigration attorney to work with its large Hispanic population to gain the community's trust.
  • Lemon Grove Elementary School District (CA) worked with a local promotora who translated forms into Spanish and called parents of children needing oral health care services.
  • Share Our Selves (CA) found that its needs assessment underestimated the oral health needs of its target population and that its oral health care partner could not meet the target population's needs. A new relationship with a local safety net clinic was established to provide school-based oral health care.

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