When Dr. Jeff Reynolds, a native of Mississippi, graduated from dentistry school more than 37 years ago, he knew that his calling would be to work with disadvantaged and underserved populations.
Since then, Reynolds has spent most of his career practicing at nine different community health centers across the U.S., the most recent being Community Health Care (CHC) of Pierce County, where he has worked for the past decade, currently as Dental Director.
I don’t have a problem going to bed at night knowing I’ve helped people. I get to use dentistry to the top of its profession. – Dr. Jeff Reynolds
CHC of Pierce County, an Elevate Health partner organization and one of roughly 3,000 community health centers in the nation, provides care to more than 45,000 patients each year at five medical clinics, four dental clinics and five pharmacy locations. One of every 18 people in Pierce County is a Community Health Care patient.
An important initiative led by Reynolds in recent years has been an effort to implement health care “integration” for many CHC Pierce County patients.
“Integration, to me, is providing all the care that patients need,” Reynolds explains, including “treating people regardless of their ability to pay. One stop-shopping. Integration, to me, means giving total care. It’s not just medical needs. It’s all kinds of needs.”
Multiple factors can dramatically influence an individual’s health, including housing, transportation, access to proper nutrition, household income and many other issues commonly referred to as “social determinants of health” (SDOH). Addressing so many facets of a person’s life means using innovative approaches.
Specifically, Reynolds and his CHC colleagues are working to develop “super visits,” during which a client might see a dentist, a primary care physician, a pediatrician, a behavioral health worker, or other health professionals, all in one day.
Kim Bjorn, Elevate Health’s Director of Clinical Integration and Transformation and host of Elevate’s Community Care Conversations series, says Reynolds and his CHC colleagues use an evaluation system called Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment, (SBIRT), a tool that aims to provide whole-person health care in Pierce County and across the country.
“Prevention,” Bjorn says during her discussion with Reynolds, “is the key to almost everything.”