The Campaign to Change Direction

As a nation, we are starting to feel more comfortable talking about mental health and I believe this is largely due to the efforts of a nationwide initiative: The Campaign Change Direction.  The Campaign is a social movement working to change the culture of mental health to help everyone receive the support and care they deserve and need.  In New Hampshire, this initiative is led by Former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, John T. Broderick, Jr., and President & CEO of Riverbend Community Mental Health, Peter Evers.

As a wellness-focused organization dedicated to improving the oral and overall health of our customers and the general public, Northeast Delta Dental is supportive of this important initiative.

It is important that everyone become more aware of their emotional well-being and the emotional well-being of their peers.   As such, a large focus of the Campaign includes training on recognizing the five signs of emotional hardship: change in personality; agitation; withdrawal; hopelessness; and a decline in personal care; which concerned me, greatly, as this lack of personal care can include oral hygiene.

Judge Broderick recently joined me on WTPL 107.7 The Pulse’s Cail & Company radio program to discuss the Campaign to Change Direction.  To listen to this broadcast, click here.

I will also join Judge Broderick, Peter Evers, and other business and community leaders at the NH Forum on the Future breakfast on Tuesday, October 4, to discuss how we can change the NH culture surrounding mental illness, and why businesses will benefit.  To register or learn more about this event, click here.

Providing mental health screenings and teaching people the signs of emotional distress allows health providers to act effectively to improve the overall health of every individual. The Campaign to Change Direction is a strongly valued and purposeful foundation that I believe will continue to bring meaningful change to New Hampshire and across the nation.

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Free Dental Care to Children of Boys & Girls Club

In my role as Chair of the New Hampshire State Board of Education, I advocate for quality early childhood education.  As President & CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, I have noticed over the years a need for more dental caries prevention in young children.  If a child has tooth pain from untreated dental caries, or their teeth start to decay from poor oral health habits, the child will likely miss school, and, most likely, their parent/guardian will need to miss work to address their child’s oral health.  If tooth decay or dental caries are not corrected, it can cause children to fall behind and not meet competencies.  Further, poor dental care can lead to malnutrition as certain nutritious foods might be painful for the child to eat.

To address this health issue locally, Northeast Delta Dental recently partnered with The Boys & Girls Club of Central New Hampshire and Saving People’s Smiles  (SPS) on a pilot program to provide free dental care to members of the Club in need.

Saving People’s Smiles is a nonprofit organization that operates a Ronald McDonald Care Mobile with two full-service dental offices inside a 40-foot vehicle. SPS will visit the Boys & Girls Club’s location on Bradley Street in Concord to offer comprehensive and preventive dental care.  We are proud to bring quality preventive oral health services to children who need it most.

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Dental Benefits for Veterans

I have been reflecting since Memorial Day and with Independence Day upon us, I wanted to share how grateful I am to those who have served our country and those who are currently serving.  I believe it is critical that we take care of the overall health of the brave persons of the United States Armed Forces.  Some members of our armed forces return home from their tours with painful memories, injuries, or mental illness.  Others are able to adjust to life at home free from any anxiety or pain.  Sometimes these injuries affect their overall health – including oral health.

At Northeast Delta Dental, we know that you cannot have good overall health without having good oral health.  Many health conditions can be caused or become more complicated as a result of poor dental health.  We are pleased to share that the Delta Dental Insurance Company (a subsidiary of Delta Dental of California), has partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create the Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP).  Those enrolled in Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Civilian Health and Medical Program (CHAMPVA) and Veterans enrolled in the VA’s health care, are eligible.

VADIP offers Veterans and CHAMPVA enrollees a choice of three dental plans:  Standard; Enhanced; and Comprehensive.  To learn more about VADIP eligibility, and enroll, please refer to the VADIP website here:

Thank you to everyone that has served and those who are currently serving our country.

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2015 Annual Report

Our 2015 Annual Report showcases our mission to advance the oral health and overall health of our customers and the general public throughout Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.  This past year, we celebrated the first complete year our Health through Oral Wellness® or (HOW®) program was in effect which helped us empower our group subscribers to achieve their personal best oral health.

We celebrated many milestones this past year, and at this writing, I am proud to report that Northeast Delta Dental has more than 821,000 subscribers.  We are proud to partner and be actively involved with many nonprofit organizations to improve the access to, and the quality of, oral health care and education through the Northeast Delta Dental Foundation.

Things are off to a great start for us in 2016 and we are grateful to our customers, member dentists, employees, and our Board of Directors/Trustees for allowing us to carry on our oral health mission.

Northeast Delta Dental’s 2015 Annual Report is available here.


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Books I am Reading – Our Kids

I recently attended City Year New Hampshire’s Starry Starry Night gala with my employee colleagues.  At the event, Robert D. Putnam, New Hampshire resident, and Malkim Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, was honored with the Lifetime of Service Award in recognition of his work across the country to examine the growing opportunity gap between the children of the wealthiest and poorest in our society.  Putnam describes this program in Our Kids:  The American Dream in Crisis, and this is what City Year Corp Members witness every day while working with students in one of six public schools in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Unfortunately, this story is not unique.  Fifty or sixty years ago when communities were talking about “our kids” they meant every child in the community.  Now, more and more, when a person says “our kids” they really mean my own children.  The focus has shifted from wanting every child to succeed to wanting only the best for THEIR children. Putnam’s work is critical and I hope that it continues to have a positive impact on a growing problem.   I encourage all of you to read Putman’s book.  While it is disheartening what has happened to many communities in the United States, I think we can slowly move things in the right direction to make sure all of “our kids” have access to extracurricular activities, responsible mentors, and, most importantly, a bright future.  IMG_2839

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“I touch the future, I teach.” – Christa McAuliffe

On January 28, I attended a special event hosted by one of Northeast Delta Dental’s favorite neighbors, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. The event was held on the thirtieth anniversary of the Challenger launch to remember Christa McAuliffe, one of New Hampshire’s most beloved teachers, and celebrate her many accomplishments.

Christa was a dreamer and she encouraged students to think outside of their comfort zone and reach for their dreams. She thought of the world as a whole and not in siloes and was a pioneer in using the community’s resources to expand the classroom. Because of this, it is fitting that the Discovery Center serves as the State of New Hampshire’s memorial to Christa McAuliffe and many schools attend the Center for field trips and extended learning opportunities which the Department of Education and Board of Education fully support and endorse.

In my high school yearbook, it said I wanted to be a teacher. Today, I am able to “teach” through mentoring my employee colleagues and celebrating their successes with them. I enjoy this as I am able to help employees follow their dreams, challenge themselves to make a positive difference, and meet their personal goals. Christa did the same with her students and we are lucky that she spent much of her tenure in New Hampshire.

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A Healthier, Happier 2016

I was recently joined by Certified Personal Trainer, NHTI Cross Country Coach, and Fitness Coordinator at Northeast Delta Dental, Tom Walton on Northeast Delta Dental Radio. We spoke about the concept of change: how to make change feel more comfortable and changes for a healthier life in 2016. The thing about change is that it isn’t easy – for anyone! I believe in small changes over time as I find that too many “big” changes at once become overwhelming and can hinder success. Slow, small, changes, are more manageable. An example of where I have reluctantly watched many in my life fail is surrounding a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. Health and fitness is a billion dollar industry and I have heard many gym owners apologize to regular patrons for the increase in volume after the New Year, while at the same time explaining that the crowd will dissipate when the “resolution” crowd eventually stops coming. Why does this happen?

Coach Walton would probably say the reason this happens is because many who resolve to lose weight in the New Year, have gone straight to the Action phase of the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) of Behavioral Change, instead of first enduring the Pre-Contemplation, Contemplation, and Preparation stages.

Additionally, many turn to “quick fixes,” and so-called miracle diets. As you will hear Coach Walton mention, there is not a quick fix or a “silver bullet.” The best way to lose weight is to increase your physical activity level, reduce your calorie intake, and be consistent. To do so, it is important that your exercise of choice is something you can enjoy doing for an hour or so each day. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it, and you won’t meet your goals!

If you have goals to improve your health this year, I commend you. How have you prepared yourself to make this change?

Click here to listen to my complete conversation about exercise and fitness goals with Coach Walton.

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