Stacey Anderson, a local registered dental hygienist, borrowed money and even used her own savings to launch a dental health program to prevent and reduce dental disease among uninsured children. Due to her dedication, Anderson is one of just six winners nationwide in the 2009 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award. Anderson is the first dental professional to have received the honor in the award’s seven-year history.
She received the coveted Grand Prize in the award’s non-physician healthcare professional category for sharing her resources, talents and expertise with needy children in Wisconsin and Minnesota – many of whom never previously had seen a dentist.
After providing dental hygiene services and oral health education for more than 20 years in private practice, Anderson founded Just Kids Dental Health in 2006. Now she teaches students in 17 elementary and middle schools in two states about oral hygiene and nutrition and works closely with school nurses to manage the care of children who have severe tooth decay. In 2008, the service provided mobile clinic services including cleanings, fluoride varnish, oral health education and sealants during more than 1,300 patient visits.
Medicaid, the government-funded health program, reimburses Just Kids Dental Health for services provided to eligible children – covering about half of Anderson’s costs. She relies on grants and community-based fundraising to make up the difference. The hygienist says she will see any child referred to her by a school nurse or county social worker or any parent having difficulty accessing preventive dental care for their children, regardless of their ability to pay.
“Stacey Anderson exemplifies what can happen when one person sees a need, then tries meeting that need with a driven passion. Through diligence, sacrifice and careful planning, she is making a profound difference in the dental and physical health of children and their families. It is fitting that she is the first dental professional to receive this award,” says Wendell Mobley, who directs Cherokee Uniforms’ charitable and scholarship programs.
The award is granted by Cherokee Uniforms to recognize nurses and other non-physician healthcare professionals who demonstrate exceptional service, sacrifice and innovation and have a positive impact on others’ lives. This is the seventh year the leading designer and manufacturer of healthcare apparel has honored inspirational caregivers.
Anderson was nominated by Nancy Smith, director of health services for Wisconsin’s School District of Superior. Smith explains, “Stacey deserves this award due to her passion and the immense amount of time she selflessly dedicates to helping underserved children. She followed her own belief – that ‘the greatest risk is in not taking one’ – and passionately believes that dental health is the right of every child.”
As the Grand Prize Winner, Anderson receives an all-expense-paid Caribbean cruise for two, a wardrobe featuring the best of Cherokee Uniforms and Cherokee Footwear worth more than $1,000, a Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award trophy and a 14K gold-plated commemorative pin.
Since the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award was established in 2003, more than 7,000 healthcare professionals have been nominated in the Registered Nurse, Advanced Practice Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse/Licensed Vocational Nurse, Student Nurse and Non-Physician Healthcare Professional categories. A panel of Cherokee representatives and past Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award recipients evaluates nominations and grants the awards.
For every nomination, Cherokee Uniforms donated $1 to Nurse’s House, a national fund that provides short-term financial assistance to registered nurses facing serious hardship. Proceeds from Cherokee Uniforms products support healthcare professionals through initiatives such as the Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award, scholarships for students enrolled in nursing school and an inspirational film for nurses. Cherokee Uniforms will be accepting nominations for the 2010 Cherokee Inspired Comfort Award beginning March 1 through May 31, 2010. For further information on the award, please visit http://inspiredcomfort.com. You can also congratulate Stacey on her win in the comment section here.