Helping 100,000 teeth every year

About 100,000 teeth are injured every year, resulting in more than 60,000 dental claims lodged with ACC. While individual injury claims are managed by our two Dental teams based in Dunedin and Hamilton, when they need further advice they turn to our Dental Advisor, Rosemary Kennedy. Find out more from Rosemary on what’s currently happening at ACC in the dental space.

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Rosemary is based in ACC’s Corporate Office in Wellington, as part of the Clinical Services Directorate. Her role includes all aspects of dental injury treatment, including maxillofacial. She is also responsible for the development of policy, entitlements, monitoring and communication, and advises the dental teams within ACC and providers on how to progress some of the more unusual cases.

While she’s now been with ACC for 12 years, Rosemary hasn’t always been sitting behind a desk in an office tower in Wellington. She started her career as a school dental nurse working in mid-Canterbury and North Otago with children off the remote sheep stations, where she had to go to the local post office to call them by radio telephone to make appointments. She continued her work in schools across the country – from Wellington to Tauranga to Christchurch and many points in between. After earning an advanced diploma in school dental nursing and an MBA from Victoria University of Wellington, she started the management portion of her career in hospitals in the Wellington area, ending as Business Manager General Medicine at Capital & Coast District Health Board.

She’s happy that her current role at ACC allows her to interact regularly with the dental community in New Zealand.

“Dental professionals in general make me feel very proud to be associated with them,” says Rosemary. “They’re innovative, proactive, energetic, inclusive and generous with their advice.”

Her role as Dental Advisor can be difficult though, and with every problem solved there is always a new challenge waiting around the bend.

For instance, in 2004 ACC was able to get $13 million of catch-up funding for regulated dental treatment costs, which had been languishing with no additional funding since 1988. Unfortunately some treatments now are out of kilter with market rates, so ACC is facing difficult funding choices to enable access for some clients, especially for definitive treatment.

ACC’s proposal for updating the rates for dental treatments is currently under consultation. More information on the proposal is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website. The proposal was also discussed with the New Zealand Dental Association Executive.

Rosemary notes that another challenge facing ACC is dental neglect and the lack of emphasis many New Zealanders put on maintaining dental health.

“If every New Zealander valued dental health and took responsibility for prioritising dental maintenance to prevent the costs of neglect, it would really help to reduce ACC’s contribution to dental injuries. We often see clients who are at a disadvantage when they walk through the door because of years of dental neglect.”

Rosemary believes that the way the dental sector works with ACC is excellent. However, she stresses that she always appreciates feedback on what could be done better, to help give a balanced perspective.

Rosemary can be contacted at Rosemary.Kennedy@acc.co.nz.

Published 19/12/2012

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