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Study finds dental therapists provide more cost-efficient care in rural areas
Primary Health Care offers these services in Walker, Dade and Catoosa

A recently released study from Minnesota shows that a dental therapist can be a cost-efficient member of a rural dental clinic's team, with average daily billings only slightly lower than those of clinic dentists. The findings suggest that expanded use of these therapists can improve access to oral health care — as envisioned by state legislation adopted in 2009 — while keeping costs down.

The study, which examines the use of an advanced dental therapist in a rural clinic, found that over three years, her average daily billing — a critical measure of use and value — was 94 percent of the average for the clinic dentists. The therapist's significantly lower hourly wage, up to 50 percent less than for a dentist in rural Minnesota, according to the state Health Department, then resulted in lower overall costs for the clinic team.

The case study, conducted by Apple Tree Dental, a Minnesota-based nonprofit, and sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts, examined the mix of procedures and the billing of the advanced dental therapist from 2014 through 2016 to evaluate her impact in the rural practice. Research shows that rural Americans often suffer from higher rates of poverty and tooth decay than the population as a whole and typically must travel longer distances to reach dental providers. Those factors make effective delivery of care critically important.

Jodi Hager had been a part of Apple Tree Dental's care team since 2004, initially as a dental hygienist and since 2011 as a dental therapist. In 2013, she was licensed as an advanced dental therapist. She provides care at the Madelia Center for Dental Health, which is housed in a community hospital that serves patients from Minnesota's south-central rural counties.

Dental therapists, akin to nurse practitioners on a medical team, are trained to deliver preventive and routine restorative care, such as placing fillings and performing simple tooth extractions. Their training to provide a limited set of common restorative

procedures mirrors the training for dentists. Advanced dental therapists are typically dually licensed in therapy, including restorative procedures, and dental hygiene. The therapists work under the supervision of a dentist and have been able to practice in Minnesota since 2011.

Among the findings of the case study:

- The therapist's average daily billing was 94 percent of the average for the clinic's dentists ($2,792 compared to $2,951).

- Although the average billing per visit was close to the average for clinic dentists — within 8 to 15 percent, the difference in pay was significantly larger, making the dental therapist's role cost-effective.

- Working four days a week, Hager averaged over 185 clinic days a year, providing more than 1,525 dental visits annually. Nearly 80 percent of her patients were insured by public programs.

- Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the services Hager provided were for restorative care.

- Over the three-year period, she placed 60 percent of the sealants at the Madelia Center (nearly 800 a year), providing one of the most effective therapies to prevent future decay.

According to federal statistics, 63 million Americans live in places that the federal government has designated as dentist shortage areas. More than half of this population resides in rural communities. Minnesota policymakers focused on this gap in access in 2009 when they moved to become the first state to authorize dental therapists to practice statewide.

The results of the study are particular to one practice, and the authors note the need for longerterm examinations involving larger numbers of therapists. Still, "Our findings strongly suggest that other rural dental practices could benefit from adding dental therapists to their dental care teams."

Jane Koppelman directs research for The Pew Charitable Trusts' dental campaign.

Lookout Mountain resort partners with Curio Collection by Hilton

Designed as a mountaintop haven for guests looking for weekend getaways, special occasions and weekday corporate events, The McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain, Curio Collection by Hilton is the result of a partnership between Chattanooga-based Scenic Land Company and Hilton.

The upper upscale hotel, conference center and spa, set to join Curio Collection by Hilton in 2020, will offer 180 rooms and more than 10,000 square feet of conference space set within a more than 800-acre mountaintop golf resort development.

Sitting mort than 2,000 feet above sea level, guests will enjoy dramatic, cliffside views across the pristine McLemore Cove and Pigeon Mountain, as well as numerous dining options, a world-class 18-hole golf course and relaxed outdoor amenities. The location is also set against the backdrop of McLemore Cove and its more than 20,000 acres of protected wilderness area.

"As Hilton continues to grow its upper upscale portfolio of Curio Collection properties, we could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunity that northwest Georgia and east Tennessee represent for our brand," said Matt Wehling, senior vice president, development

– North America, Hilton. "As the first high-end resort in the area, the distinctive property will offer oneof-a-kind mountaintop experiences for guests and is an ideal addition to the expanding global collection."

In addition to the site's natural and historical amenities, guests staying at The McLemore Resort will have access to a wide array of amenities, including a world-class spa and fitness center, infinity edge pools, as well as an 18-hole golf course, redesigned by Rees Jones and Bill Bergin. The McLemore Resort will also provide visitors with a premier base camp for exploration throughout Georgia's Cumberland Plateau. Nearby access to hiking, cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, bouldering, caving, kayaking, horseback riding and hang gliding makes the location perfect for outdoor adventure and discovery.

Carefully selected for its strategic location, The McLemore Resort will be a short two-hour drive from five major markets, which include Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville. In addition, the corporate headquarters of 28 Fortune 500 companies are located in the region, representing a significant opportunity for weekday corporate events and conferences.

"The McLemore Resort is a perfect intersection for business travelers during the week and leisure guests on the weekends. No place in the Southeastern United States is as conveniently located and rich in natural amenities as we are," said Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Company and developer of The McLemore Resort. "As a native of northwest Georgia I fully appreciate both the beauty of the area's natural amenities, as well as the economic benefit this resort will bring to the community. By partnering with Curio Collection by Hilton, it allows us to develop a property authentic to Lookout Mountain while leveraging Hilton's reservation system and its renowned Hilton Honors guest-loyalty program. Our team loves this place and people deeply and is excited about sharing it with visitors from throughout the region and nation."

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, confirms Horton's enthusiasm: "The McLemore Resort will provide a tangible boost to the local economy through job creation and tourism dollars from out of state visitors. We estimate more than 200 direct employment opportunities will be created, along with hundreds of secondary jobs thanks to this resort. Many of these positions will offer pay above the current per capita income in Walker County. The McLemore Resort represents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth in northwest Georgia."

Leading operations for The McLemore Resort is Euan McGlashan, co-founder and managing partner of Atlanta-based Valor Hospitality, who gained attention early in his career with his historic launch of the Cape Grace luxury hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Under McGlashan's leadership, Cape Grace was voted Best Hotel in the World by Conde Nast Traveler Magazine in 2000.

"Working on The McLemore Resort with Scenic Land Company and Curio Collection by Hilton brings together my passion for introducing people to new, beautiful settings and creating bestin-class hospitality experiences for them," said McGlashan. "The team assembled here is driven and devoted to the project's longterm success and positive impact on the State of Georgia. Valor Hospitality is committed to creating exceptional and enjoyable experiences for our guests. I am confident that The McLemore Resort is going to do just that when we open the doors."

Funding for The McLemore Resort is provided in part by Scenic Land Investments III, a Limited Partnership consisting of a select group of investors from the Southeast and Midwest.

About The McLemore Resort

Located on Lookout Mountain in Walker County, Georgia, McLemore is an 800-acre mountaintop high-end resort community. Among the property's amenities is a world-class 18-hole golf course currently being redesigned by golf legends, Rees Jones and Bill Bergin. McLemore includes plans for a golf clubhouse and an upper upscale resort, conference center and spa that will attract visitors from the Southeast, national and international markets.

About Curio Collection by Hilton

Curio Collection by Hilton ( is an upper upscale, global portfolio of nearly 50 one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts handpicked for their unique character. Curio Collection properties appeal to travelers seeking unexpected and authentic experiences, and the benefits of Hilton's award-winning guest loyalty program, Hilton Honors. Read the latest brand and property stories at; discover Curio Collection destinations through the eyes of locals with 48-hour itineraries at; and connect with Curio Collection on, and

LaFayette updates mobile home code lauds Rotary for 80 years of service

LaFayette's elected officials dealt with concerns about local zoning ordinances, a costly but necessary sanitary sewer project and a progress report on efforts to enhance quality of life within the city limits.

During a public hearing about application for a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority loan to replace sewers as part of a Spring Creek Interceptor project.

GEFA is an agency that directs programs to conserve and improve Georgia's energy, land and water resources. The $1.250,000 loan would pay for replacing about t4,900 feet of decaying clay pipes with plastic sewer lines and leaking brick manhole covers with 17 news ones made of precast concrete with watertight lids.

This project will increase the system's capacity, reduce the amount of rainfall and broken water line leakage into the system and will be necessary for future development in the area.

While the need to upgrade the sewer system was unchallenged, that was not the case concerning changes to the city's zoning ordinances.

Wendy Gerloch voiced her opposition to changes that will make it unlawful to place a mobile home anywhere other than a mobile home park. Gerloch said she only wanted to replace an existing mobile home with a newer one.

Though they recognized her dilemma, the council agreed the change is in line with the PRIDE initiative which is aimed at making LaFayette a safer, more appealing place to live or operate a business.

In a similar vein the council heard from Terry Shropshire who was protesting his being cited to

municipal court for violation of the city ordinances related to junk motor vehicles and derelict properties.

Councilman Ben Bradford pointed out that the council crafts codes and ordinances — they pass laws — and it is up to the court system to interpret and enforce that legislation. That is what should happen when Shropshire pleads his case before the city judge.

In other business the council unanimously approved the YMCA's use of city pool as a site to offer swimming lessons. By a 5-0 vote the council also granted a contract to spend up to $20,000 with Continental Pipe Service, of Marietta, for video inspection of 9,600 feet of sewer lines. The council also adopted a resolution calling for the annual year-end settlement from its electric power supplier (usually a refund) being automatically applied to the city-owned utility's purchase of electricity in the following year.

Council members were also unanimous in contracting Harmony Productions, of Chattanooga, to provide stages, stage hands, lighting and sound reinforcement equipment for the upcoming Honeybee Festival. The $20,990 fee for these services should be paid by festival sponsors and will cost be provided at no cost to the city.

A bid to remove trees growing in the flight path at both ends of the city airport was also accepted by the council. Officials were told the Graham County Land Company's bid of $135,465 was "in line" with similar projects and that the city is responsible for 5 percent of that expense, the rest being covered by federal and state funds.

In addition to dealing with the day-to-day business of local government, Mayor Andy Arnold awarded the Rotary Club of Lafayette with an official proclamation honoring the club on April 9, 2018, for its four score years of service to the community.

The proclamation listed many contributions of the Club including its commitment to local schools specifically the 63 LaFayette High School Scholarships awarded, the support of the Saddle Ridge Robotics Team, the support of the LaFayette High School sports and band programs. The proclamation also mentioned the Club's commitment to the Global Eradication of Polio, the local Purple Heart memorial, and Honeybee Festival sponsorship.

Rotary President Craig Smith expressed his appreciation for the proclamation on behalf of the Club members.

"We are honored to be recognized for our service to the community," he said. "Our lub is committed to 'Service Above Self' for at least another 80 years in LaFayette."