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Archer’s Advocacy for Care in Challenged Communities Honored by Michigan Dental Association

PhotoCatherine Archer

Catherine (Jewell) Archer, a Ferris State University Dental Hygiene assistant professor, was honored to learn she will receive the Michigan Dental Association’s Allied Professional Educator Award.

Archer is engaged in various programs providing care to underserved or low-income local, regional and international communities, including four dental mission tours to Guyana in South America.

“I was flattered by Dental Hygiene and Public Health Chair Susan Wancour’s nomination for this award,” Archer said. “It is humbling to receive recognition, but I am just trying to do a good job and expose our Dental Hygiene students to those who may not have the resources or coverage to keep up on the support they need for good oral health.”

Archer noted letters of support from some dentists and specialists who took part in previous mission trips to Guyana and mentors and other supporters of her outreach programs.

“COVID-19 has lingered to the point where many of our community outreach efforts have been affected, “Archer said. “Some of the local programs include demonstrations at the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District Career Center, visits to Hope Network and the Head Start programs in Mecosta and Osceola counties, as well as trips to meet with residents of the Mission Point rehabilitation facility in Big Rapids.”

In recent summers, Archer was part of an MDA-supported Michigan Mission of Mercy program that saw Dental Hygiene students and dental providers offer support in clinics in Midland, Big Rapids and other Lower Peninsula communities.

“I want our students to be aware of those populations with limited access to dental health provisions,” Archer said. “I am aware, through decades of service and instruction, that there have been great gains, thanks to the establishment of MyCommunity dental centers across Michigan. Those facilities have a difficult task keeping up with the needs of Medicaid-eligible patients whose numbers have also grown significantly.”

Archer said collaborative outreach for hygiene students and dental health professionals brings greater public awareness of health issues that may present themselves in oral exams.

“These patients may miss potential danger signs. So, this kind of outreach can change or possibly save a life,” Archer said. “Each program that presents this type of care is a valuable learning experience for our students.”

Archer will receive the Allied Professional Educator Award for her outstanding commitment to advancing oral health at the MDA’s 2022 Annual Session, set for April 27-30 at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi.