HKP Architects is honored to have the opportunity to provide architectural services to our local tribal communities. The majority of such work is with the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, planning their long-range facilities capital visions and developing social services projects. The most recent work with this community is completing the expansion of their existing dental clinic.
While all of our tribal projects bring us inspiration and a sense of pride, this particular project stands out. As part of the clinics’ expansion, the tribe has also been approved to train Dental Health Aide Therapists (DHATs) and is in collaboration with Skagit Valley College to provide the clinical training site which would be housed in this expansion. This DHAT Training program will be the first of its kind in the lower 48 states.
To fully understand the impact that this dental clinic expansion and the subsequent ability to now train DHATs, let’s explain what the DHAT program is and why the expansion of this program is vital for tribal healthcare. DHATs are dental health aide therapists who can perform basic dental procedures, including restorations, after they complete 2 years of training.
43% of indigenous children in the United States aged 2 to 5 years have untreated tooth decay according to a 2014 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Many indigenous people cannot afford dental care on their own, and often dentists refuse patients whose only form of payment is Medicaid. DHATs also are usually members of the communities they serve so they are able to provide culturally competent dental care.
The first US DHAT program began in Alaska. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium organized licensure of high school graduates with 2 years of training in dentistry to do basic procedures, including basic restorations and extractions. A Dental Health Aide Therapist operates under general supervision, meaning that a dentist has authorized the procedures which are carried out in accordance with the orders given to that specific DHAT.
The successful completion of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Dental Clinic Expansion means that not only the expansion of dental services provided to the community but also the expansion of the DHAT program itself, increasing the reach of dental services for other communities. This project reinforces why our tribal work is so meaningful to us. Service to our local tribal communities has been part of HKP Architect’s rich history and is our current vision for community service.
Learn more about this and our other tribal projects: http://www.hkpa.com/project-details/swinomish-indian-tribal-community-dental-clinic-expansion/