3. Challenge patients, state policymakers, and dental professionals to work together to improve all Minnesota residents’ oral health
1. Emergency and charity care is expensive, limited in effectiveness, and treatment of last resort. Dentists do serve their communities.
2. Oral health is critical to overall health, and ensuring residents have proper dental care is important to our state economically and socially
3. The MDA looks forward to working with lawmakers on viable, bipartisan “Healthy Choices” for reducing barriers to dental care across the state.
Four legislators and six dentists met in Erskine, Minnesota. Two legislators and 11 dentists gathered in Bemidji. Roger Sjulson acted as host and, after introductions around the
room, the Mission of Mercy project was described and brochures passed around. Many good questions were asked by the legislators, and they responded positively to the MDA’s
efforts to conduct the M.O.M.
After describing the role of volunteers involved in an M.O.M., we discussed the role of dentists and hygienists from outside of our state who will wish to attend, and we informed the legislators of the MDA’s desire to work with the legislature to pass legislation allowing temporary licensing. The legislators responded positively to this intent as well.
From volunteerism and the M.O.M. events, the discussion was next directed toward the Lab Bill. We put forth the MDA position that, although there are portions of the bill with which we are in agreement, the MDA could not support the bill as it currently stands.
Lastly, we talked about the State Health Program Transparency and Accountability issue. The dentists emphasized to the legislators that the MDA is currently working, and
will continue to work, with a broad coalition of Minnesota provider organizations to advocate with both the legislative and executive branches for greater transparency, better scrutiny of profi tability, and outside independent audits for managed care health plans that provide services with taxpayer money. The coalition’s position is that if health plans profit from state programs, these profits should be returned to those who provide the state program health care services.
When given the opportunity to provide the dentists with their own requests of dentists or the dental community, to a person the legislators were receptive to their dentist constituents contacting them at any time to keep them informed. One Republican emphasized that issues brought forth by the large group (such as our organization) will receive a better hearing than those brought forth by individuals or small, disconnected groups. The dentists thanked the legislators for their interest and participation in the Dental Town Hall Meeting forum and, in turn, asked them to contact us for information, explanations, assistance, or whatever.
Just as it had two nights earlier in Erskine, the Dental Town Hall Meeting in Bemidji went very smoothly. The dentists felt that our issues were well heard and well received by the legislators. We promised the legislators that we would follow through in keeping them informed of our issues and positions and were looking forward to seeing them on Dental Day at the Capitol.
“Take a Stand”
You would have had to have been under a lunar rock not to have noticed all the verbal commotion and political vocalizing crescendoing over the past year+ as we approach (a mere 11-ish months away!) the next national election. At the state and national level there are many political people trying to persuade us of the correctness/rightness/ fairness/or whateverness of their position. Passionate. Dogmatic. Self-enriching. Egotistical. Moral. Empathetic…they’re coming from all over the spectrum to convince you of their something. The truly devoted politicos spend significant amounts of time, energy, and money — for whatever their reasons may be — admonishing the less-than-110%- committed to align with one ideology or another. And beyond that, they seem to work unceasingly to get the undecided to adopt their view, to “take a stand”.
Well, when someone is trying to get me to take a stand, I begin to ask questions: Which stand? When? How long do I stay there? Where will that other person be in relation to my stand, and what is his or her strategy?
Although a proclamation to take a stand is a call, for me it is more commonly in the fall in northern Minnesota thought of as a call to arms – an autumn directive to proceed with firearm to a specific location, hoping for some action. Deer hunters know what I mean. There is probably not a deer hunter — at least not anyone who has hunted in the same particular area over a period of time — who hasn’t had this conversation or a variation:
“John, you take the ‘Tree Stand’. Be there by 7:00 a.m. Stay there until 11:00, then poke your way back to the vehicle. I’ll go to the ‘brushpile’ and maybe you’ll shag something by me on your way. Back at the truck we can have lunch and figure out where to hunt in the afternoon.”
We’re talking deer hunting stands. Those are the type of stands I’m committed to, not a response to pleas by politicians. And don’t you know, almost every deer hunter I have ever spoken to has quite specific monikers for each of his deer stands. Not usually run-of-the-mill names which might immediately be an obvious choice to an outsider, they are special names, names bestowed upon a particular place where a member of the deer hunting party parks himself and waits in anticipation.
There is, for instance, Scott’s “Concession Stand”, named for the many candy wrappers on the ground below.
Paul told me, with a grin — or grimace? — one of his was called “The Hernia Stand”. I can only imagine.
Bob’s “Rock in Tree” is a less common type. Not constructed from dimensional lumber scraps or parts of trees cut from the woods nearby nor even elevated, it derives its name for
the coordinate in Grandpa’s woods identified by the presence of a rock lodged many years ago by means now forgotten between two trunks of a tree.
Creativity in spinning a political position may be high, but how inspiring is that for most of us? There is seldom a lack of creativity in the bestowing of a name upon a deer stand, but more importantly, there is special meaning – to those who named it.
“The Pipeline Stand”: For several generations and through numerous rebuildings, located in the woods on the trail between two pastures created when machinery cut its way through during the laying of a water line for the turkey flocks.
“Casey’s Castle”: A deer stand fit for a king!
“The Sweet Stand”: So named when, shortly after its construction the first user bagged a deer. In the obligatory re-telling of the tale, this 1980s dude described the location and successful conclusion as “Sweeeet!”
“Vern’s Veranda”: A great place for Vern to hang out in the woods!
So “stand” as used by the deer hunting community is, unlike the definition thrown at us throughout these campaigns, something to appreciate. True, each refers to position and may be constructed using platforms. Also true is that although it may wobble (or waffle), your typical North Woods deer stand does not change its position — at least not easily. Only through destruction by logging, fire, or significant decomposition of the wooden construction materials does changing one’s stand in the woods occur. Just try changing your political stand in the current environment!
This installment of Lore from the North Woods shall end with this simple statement: Show me a deer hunter with several (deer hunting) campaigns under his belt and I’ll show you someone who can toss off the names of several deer stands and go into some detail about how each got its name. Now those are stands I’m happy to take!
It’s not the sorry state of politics in Minnesota or the onset of a Leap Year (thereby giving legislators one EXTRA day to play politics) that gives me pause. It isn’t this winter’s lack of snow — and I use the term “winter” loosely! — and the uncharacteristically thin ice in the Northland which has left many ice fishermen on shore and quite a few individuals contemplating a very chilly swim from an ice flow back to land. It was a thinly veiled, easy to resort to, cheap shot at that much maligned holiday concoction which too often resembles a fruit-filled brick, or which could be used effectively (and preferably, by many) as a holiday doorstop, that raised my hackles in the just-concluded annum. I speak, of course, of fruitcake.
Until marrying into the Allen family, I suppose I had also never enjoyed a positive fruitcake moment. It wasn’t really something I recall creating excitement in a positive way on the Lueth side of the family. I do not recall my own mother or grandmother making it. And if any fruitcake did arrive at our household, it must have suffered the fate so often spoken of by fruitcake detractors the world ‘round, that of being discreetly tossed out or set on the birdfeeder as an offering to the starving winter creatures. But having just celebrated my 32nd wedding anniversary, I can honestly say it’s been too dang long since I recall anything other than mother-in-law Dorothy’s homemade fruitcake.
Big deal, you say. Yeah, BIG deal, I say back. Why did I come to not only like her fruitcake but progressed over many years of married life to anxiously awaiting the unwrapping of the annual fruitcake stash? (Let’s just check to see how it’s coming along, should we? No, it hasn’t been soaking long enough yet! Oh come on, just a taste?! Not yet, let it soak another week or two.) Dorothy’s secret - one I heartily subscribe to - is to begin early (the fruitcake dough is mixed and the loaves are baked in September or October) and thereby leave enough time for the real fi nishing touch to work its magic. Each loaf is wrapped in a clean dish towel, soaked in brandy, and sealed in wax paper and foil. Lots of brandy! Hey, I’m not complaining. It works. And it makes me smile inwardly when I hear all the fruitcake putdowns. Because I know that - except for a few close insiders who know about how good Dorothy’s fruitcake is - there is likely to be little if any competition outside that circle for that holiday treat when the slices are finally set out on the table, and I’ll once again have the last (No smoking allowed, Flammable substance!) fruitcake laugh.
I wait all year for the serving of Dorothy’s fruitcake. In fact, in her household there is competition directed at getting your fair portion of this dark, bready, candied - and potent! - Christmas treat of the gods. Even the morsels or crumbs littering the serving plate (or wrapper as it resides in the fridge) get snapped up, providing some guilty enjoyment for a greedy lucky soul. Egg nog? Yea, whatever. Tom and Jerrys ... the same. Lutefisk, lefse, fatigman ... mere holidazzle window dressing. As for Dorothy’s Christmas fruitcake — cheers! I’ll have another round!