Laura Gutierrez is the dental clinic manager for NSO dental clinic, a low-cost clinic for the uninsured, as well as a licensed dental assistant. She takes a lot of pride in planning, directing and coordinating the daily operations of the clinic for the dental team, while being on hand to assist chair side when it’s needed. In the last year alone, her clinic performed almost 6,000 procedures on more than 2,000 patients. It takes impressive skills and much effort from Gutierrez to be able to play such a big part in making sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently at the clinic on a daily basis.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help other people,” she said. “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a patient smile for the first time in years.”

Still, an endeavor like that comes with its own heavy set of challenges. Some of those challenges are expected, like finding and maintaining enough funding and others are more specific to a unique project like this one, challenges like dealing with the at-risk population and preserving open and transparent lines of communication with funders.

“I believe that God has a plan for each of us and even though we have our own idea of what we want to be doing, God guided and directed my path to work in dentistry,” she said. “I believe He has led me to this mission and has blessed me with skills and abilities to operate our clinic efficiently, and continue to secure funding for our mission.”

Family and faith are two very important factors in Gutierrez’s life and her success. Her first role model and biggest supporter is her mother, who has always showed her how to be a good person. Her mother made sure she was a good example of female strength to her daughter, putting herself through school as well as making her way up to management at work and all while supporting her family as a single mother.

“My mother has always inspired me to be the best person and the best business woman that I could be,” she said. “Throughout the years, my mother never told me how to be, rather showed me how I should be and for that I am grateful.”

To Gutierrez, education is a huge factor of importance when it comes to her success. She strived to never stop learning and never stop asking questions because without those things her evolving success would become stagnant. She maintains a healthy sense of curiosity that always keeps her busy.

“Education and learning, even if it’s not formal is extremely important to keep you interested and enthusiastic about what you do,” she said. “Even after 12 years I can say that I still have so much to learn. It’s okay to push your limits, and move out of your comfort zone. This is how great things will happen to you.”

by Steve Lackmeyer for The Oklahoman:

Neighborhood Services Organization, a social anchor for the Riverside neighborhood for 96 years, will build a $1.9 million home while retaining its decades-old address.

Stacey Ninness, the agency’s director, said site work began this month with construction to begin within the next few weeks.

“It’s where we started in 1920 — we’ve been a fabric of the neighborhood,” Ninness said. “We never considered any other location.”

When the agency hired architect Kenyon Morgan, he initially was commissioned to see if the former Methodist church building at 431 SW 11, built in 1916, could be renovated and expanded.

“There were seven different floor levels,” Morgan said. “Bringing it to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards would have required 40 percent of the building space. Trying to get an elevator to each floor and making it accessible was more costly than building a new structure.”

The building, which Morgan said had been stripped of historical features decades ago, was torn down earlier this year.

The new 9,800-square-foot building is designed to fit in with surrounding historic buildings that include the old Riverside School, which is now home to the Latino Development Agency, and the Little Flower Catholic Church, Morgan said.

Morgan also acknowledged the area is set to change with continued redevelopment of the Oklahoma River and westward expansion of downtown.

“It will be very visible as you come over the Walker bridge (spanning the river),” Morgan said.

Temporary location

With the agency’s original building razed, Neighborhood Services Organization is located temporarily in a former dental clinic at 8101 S Walker Ave.

Ninness estimates the new building will open within a year, allowing the agency to expand its services to low income families, clients at First Step, City Rescue Mission and other area churches and organizations.

She said the new building will allow the agency to expand from three to five dental surgery rooms.

“Our dental clinic does about 7,000 procedures a year — we see about 2,000 patients,” Ninness said.

The new Neighborhood Services Organization headquarters is funded through a $3 million capital campaign that also will pay for furnishings and provide a maintenance endowment.


Champions of Health winners selected

From the Journal Record,  August 5, 2014

TULSA (JR) – NewView Oklahoma has been selected as the recipient of the Dr. Rodney L. Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health, the highest honor of the Champions of Health awards.

NewView Oklahoma serves individuals with vision loss, typically ages 65 and older, in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. Services combine low-vision optometry with vision rehabilitation.

As the Champion of Oklahoma Health, NewView Oklahoma received a grant of $15,000, which will be presented at the 2014 Champions of Health Gala at 6 p.m. Sept. 30 at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Bob and Lee Woodruff will be the speakers. Tickets to the Champions of Health Gala cost $100 each and may be purchased by calling (855) 628-8642.

In addition to the Dr. Rodney L. Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health award, other winners will be recognized at the gala.

Other winners include: Champion of Children’s Health, Fostering Hope of Tulsa; Champion of the Uninsured, Morton Comprehensive Health Care Inc.; Champion of Senior Health, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma-Senior Servings Program; Community Health Champion, Healthy Community Store Initiative-R & G Grocers; and Corporate Health Champion, Muskogee County Emergency Services-Coaches Program.

Finalists were also named in some categories including Champion of Children’s Health, Arthritis Foundation Oklahoma-Kids Get Arthritis, Too Program; Champion of the Uninsured, Neighborhood Services Organization; Champion of Senior Health, Southern Oklahoma Nutrition Program-Rebekah Williams; Community Health Champion, Resonance Center for Women; and Corporate Health Champion, Mercy Hospital’s Wellness Program-Healthification: Eat for Life.

The Champions of Health program is presented by the Office of the Governor-Native American Liaison, the Oklahoma Dental Association, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Oklahoma Hospital Association, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and the Oklahoma State Medical Association in partnership with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma.

  1. by Kim Krisberg

Typical patients at the Neighborhood Services Organization dental clinic in Oklahoma City initially visit because of oral health emergencies. However, they keep coming back after discovering that the clinic offers affordable dental care.

“When people do find us, they tend to stay on as regular patients,” said Laura Gutierrez, dental clinic manager. “It’s not that they didn’t know (oral health) was important, it’s that they couldn’t afford it before.”


Cieanna Lindoerfer, 5, of West Bend, Wis., opens wide as Holly Koehn inspects her teeth at the Riverfront Dentist in Barton, Wis., in February 2013. Members of the dental practice donated equipment and time to help give children from a local Head Start Program free dental care. The Affordable Care Act has measures designed to improve dental access for children.

Photo by John Ehlke, courtesy The Daily News/AP Images

The clinic, which accepts patients ages 8 and older, offers a full range of reduced-price dental services, such as preventive cleanings for $50 or extractions for $60. The clinic’s three dental chairs are always full and in demand, Gutierrez said. Last year, clinic staff performed more than 7,000 procedures and cared for more than 1,300 patients, the majority of whom had no dental insurance. Gutierrez said she hopes the Affordable Care Act will expand opportunities for affordable dental insurance, but she said she is not counting on it.

“People get insurance but still can’t afford the copays,” she said. “That’s why a clinic like ours is still going to see a need.”


Children of uninsured parents get a lesson on dental care from a dental hygienist at a mobile clinic in July 2009 in Aurora, Colo. The nonprofit Rocky Mountain Youth Clinics mobile dental van provides preventive dental services such as checkups, sealants and cleanings to children of families who often have no health or dental coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act, pediatric dental coverage is considered an essential benefit that must be offered within health insurance marketplaces.

Photo by John Moore, courtesy Getty Images

Even though millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the insured and gaining access to affordable health care, access to oral health care is still expected to lag, especially among adults. Under the health reform law, pediatric dental coverage is considered an essential benefit that must be offered within the state and federal health insurance marketplaces. However, adult dental coverage is not an essential benefit. And depending on the state, pediatric coverage could be a mixed bag as well.

As an essential benefit, pediatric dental coverage is either offered as part of an overall health insurance package or as a stand-alone plan. Each state exchange is different, with some offering a mix of integrated and stand-alone plans and others offering only one or the other. The Affordable Care Act also places limits on out-of-pocket pediatric dental expenses and eliminates annual or lifetime coverage limits.

On the surface, designating pediatric dental coverage as an essential benefit seems like a significant victory, especially as tooth decay is the most common chronic illness affecting American children. But after a closer examination of the law’s fine print, some advocates are reining in their celebrations. Overall, children got a better deal than adults in terms of oral health access, said Colin Reusch, MPA, senior policy analyst at the Children’s Dental Health Project, however there are still some major gaps.

For example, Reusch said, if a family is shopping for insurance within a marketplace that only offers stand-alone pediatric dental plans, members could purchase a medical insurance plan, forgo the stand-alone dental plan and still be in compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. So while pediatric dental coverage is an essential benefit, it is not necessarily a required purchase and parents can opt out, Reusch noted.

However, some states are trying to tip the scales in favor of children’s oral health. For instance, Washington and Nevada require that parents buy pediatric dental coverage and in Connecticut, all health insurance plans must include pediatric dental coverage.

Reusch noted that while the American Dental Association estimated that 8.7 million kids would gain dental coverage through the Affordable Care Act, “we really don’t know what will happen.”

“The bottom line is if kids have coverage, they are much more likely to get the care they need and if they get into care early, they’re much less likely to experience cavities,” Reusch told The Nation’s Health. “It’s a net positive no matter how you look at it.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 4 million U.S. children had unmet dental needs in 2012 because their families could not afford dental care. Twenty-eight percent of uninsured children had no dental visits for more than two years — including kids who never had a visit at all. Only 10 percent of children with Medicaid or private health insurance had gone that long without a dental visit.

Like many aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the magnitude of the law’s impact will depend on the state. In Florida, which ranks last in providing dental care to low-income kids, oral health may not get the boost advocates were hoping for, said Frank Catalanotto, DMD, chair of Oral Health Florida and a professor in the Department of Community Dentistry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Florida. In Florida, where there is little governmental support for the Affordable Care Act and residents will be limited to the federal marketplace and its pediatric dental coverage loopholes, little could change, Catalanotto said. Florida’s Medicaid program only covers emergency dental care for adults, and even though all Medicaid programs cover dental care for kids, Florida’s reimbursement rates are so low that few dentists take Medicaid patients.

“Kids in Florida will continue to suffer,” Catalanotto told The Nation’s Health.

Catalanotto noted that in 2010 in Florida, $88 million was spent treating children and adults in hospital emergency rooms for preventable dental conditions.

By contrast, in Washington state, the rate of untreated tooth decay among low-income preschoolers dropped by half between 2005 and 2010, and the state’s Medicaid program provides enhanced payments to providers willing to see low-income children, said Diane Oakes, MPH, MSW, deputy director of the Washington Dental Service Foundation.

In addition, state lawmakers recently reinstated adult Medicaid dental benefits to coincide with the program’s eligibility expansion, which means 700,000 adults will gain dental coverage, Oakes said. Now, work turns toward making sure those newly insured adults can find a dentist.

Oakes also noted that even though more adults and children will gain dental coverage, publicly supported programs, such as school-based efforts that screen for and treat oral health problems, will still be needed.

“Those programs that go out into the community are critical to improving overall health,” Oakes told The Nation’s Health.

In fact, the Affordable Care Act specifically addresses public health-based oral health efforts, such as directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to expand the school-based dental sealant program and authorizing a five-year public health campaign to promote oral health.

Unfortunately, federal policymakers have not provided the funding to bring the measures to fruition. Christine Wood, RDH, executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors and an APHA member, said she is concerned that organizations that support school sealant programs will pull back under the belief that all kids will now be covered by either Medicaid or private insurance.

“Even for kids who are covered by Medicaid, their parents may not be in a position to take time off work and go to a Medicaid provider,” Wood said. “Being able to provide those services in school and to all kids is still a high priority.”

Wood said the Affordable Care Act’s oral health provisions are a “step in the right direction, but there’s still going to be people who will need population-based public health services.”

Back in Oklahoma, where about half the adult population does not have dental coverage, Terrisa Singleton said she does not expect the Affordable Care Act to have “any impact for adults in a positive way.” As the director of Delta Dental of Oklahoma Oral Health Foundation, which provides funding support for the dental clinic at the Neighborhood Services Organization in Oklahoma City, Singleton said she predicts adult demand for affordable dental care access will remain the same or even increase.

“Adults have no remedy through the (Affordable Care Act),” she said. “This is not the savior we had hoped for. We have to continue our efforts to bring affordable dental care to the people who need it.”

For more information on oral health and the Affordable Care Act, or

OKLAHOMA CITY – Thirty-two executives were recognized Thursday night at The Journal Record’s fifth annual Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs event at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.

Michael Kloiber, president and CEO of Tinker Federal Credit Union, was also inducted into the program’s Chain of Distinction as a three-time honoree.

“Of course, this honor is truly humbling in itself,” Kloiber said. “There is no greater reward than to be held in esteem by those on whose lives you have the opportunity to make a major impact. As the CEO, you have the ability to make them happy, content and challenged, or you can also have the opposite impact.”

Kloiber and the other honorees were selected by a panel of business and community leaders and are profiled in the Oklahoma’s Most Admired CEOs magazine inserted in Thursday’s issue of The Journal Record.

Following is the list of the CEO honorees by category.

Public companies

Mark Funke, Southwest Bancorp/Bank SNB.

Brian Sampson, Vallourec Star.

Private companies

Gary Allison, Tri-State Industrial Group.

Bill Bartmann, CFS2.

Tim Berney, VI Marketing & Branding.

Cheryl Cohenour, Cherokee CRC.

Steve Corley, Eide Bailly.

Becky Frank, Schnake Turnbo Frank.

Todd Lisle, BKD.

Percy Kirk, Cox Communications.

Michael Kloiber, Tinker Federal Credit Union.

Bruce Lawrence, Integris Health.

J.W. Mashburn, Mashburn Enterprises.

Faye Norton, Designer Hardware by Faye.

Robert “Bob” Peterson, Melton Truck Lines.

Shawn Slaton, Cherokee Nation Businesses.

Syndy Thrash, Evans Enterprises.


Ann Ackerman, Leadership Oklahoma.

Susan Agel, Positive Tomorrows.

Lauren Branch, NewView Oklahoma.

Carrie Brown, Payne Education Center.

Lou Carmichael, Variety Care.

Marci Donaho, Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum.

Mark Graham, Tulsa Area United Way.

David Keith, McAlester Regional Health Center.

Sandra Lewis, Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless.

Connie Thrash McGoodwin, Dale Rogers Training Center.

Stacey Ninness, Neighborhood Services Organization.

In addition, four chief financial officers received Financial Stewardship Awards at the event: Mike Beckwith, Buy for Less; Doug Evans, Cherokee Nation Businesses; Ora Morgan, Autry Technology Center; and Ken Stephens, Neighborhood Services Organization.

The presenting sponsor of this year’s event was UMB Bank. The event was also sponsored by Cox Business, Executive AirShare, Express Employment Professionals, GableGotwals, HoganTaylor and American Fidelity Assurance Co.

“We understand the important part CEOs and CFOs play in our local economy,” said Mary Blankenship Pointer, senior vice president of business development for UMB Bank’s Oklahoma region. “This high-caliber event provides the recognition for their vision and leadership that they deserve.”