HOPE Program Increases Impact 5000% in Less Than a Year

L-R: Nicole Petit, RDH; Sandra Badzak, PCA; Michael Jones, President & CEO, Delta Dental of Arizona; Josefa Pucti, PCA; Susan Dimpfel, RN; and Dr. Nimit Agarwal, MD, FACP
L-R: Nicole Petit, RDH; Sandra Badzak, PCA; Michael Jones, President & CEO, Delta Dental of Arizona; Josefa Pucti, PCA; Susan Dimpfel, RN; and Dr. Nimit Agarwal, MD, FACP

I have worked in philanthropy for over 20 years, primarily on the funding side, with literally hundreds of programs, program directors, nonprofit staff, grant writers and foundation staff. All the programs had goals and benchmarks to achieve as part of their grants. The vast majority of programs reached their goals.  Some needed additional time, some needed additional resources, but the majority achieved the goals set out in the funding agreement.

Launching the HOPE program

The goal of most nonprofit organizations is to make positive change and ensure the invested funds make an impact to benefit our community. Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation (DDAZF) works to improve the health and wellness of Arizonans. Toward that end, in 2021 DDAZF partnered with Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix to create the Hospital Oral Care and Periodontal Disease Education (HOPE) dental program. The program instituted twice-a-day oral hygiene protocols with patients 65 and older at the hospital with a goal of lowering hospital-acquired pneumonia and improving the medical outcomes for these senior patients.

DDAZF funds the HOPE program with the aim of helping Banner reach its goals, plus expand this program throughout the hospital and a long-term expansion of the program throughout the entire Banner Healthcare System of hospitals in six states. While it is a long-term goal, systemic, positive changes in the health of Arizonans helps increase the impact of DDAZF’s investment.

By September 2022 the HOPE program staff kicked off and began training nursing and clinical staff on the new protocols. Within days, patients started receiving twice-a-day bedside hygiene with toothbrushes, paste and floss provided by Delta Dental of Arizona. The nursing teams working with the senior patients were enthusiastic and diligent.

In June of 2023, after less than a year, Banner Healthcare announced that the HOPE Program will be instituted in 28 adult hospitals throughout the Banner Healthcare system to all patients, not just seniors. It’s an exciting announcement that results in 300,000 patients receiving oral hygiene protocols when they are in a Banner hospital. We’re so proud to be working with Banner to help change the oral health landscape for hospitalized patients.

Facilitating the HOPE program

The HOPE team at Banner provides the boots on the ground to run this program every day: Dr. Nimit Agarwal, Director, Division of Geriatric Medicine; Susan Dimpfel, RN Navigator of HOPE Dental Program; and Nicole Petit, RDH, who helps provide training and oral health expertise to the program. In addition, the behind-the-scenes team of Lauren Bouchard, Chief Development Officer, and Katie Penkoff, Development Director of the Banner Health Foundation staffed the program from the administrative side. I want to thank them all for the support, assistance and genuine caring they provided to help ensure the overall efficacy of this program was recognized by the Banner healthcare executives.

This team at Banner is not only dedicated to the importance of the HOPE program to the medical outcomes of their patients, but they were also able to successfully increase their impact by over 5000% in less than one year. It’s definitely a milestone program from a funding perspective. The impact is exceptional, and we are so incredibly proud to be a part of integrating medical and dental care to benefit patients and our community as a whole.

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