PBS Visits Toksook Bay for NewsHour Dental Series

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December 5, 2011 - 3 minutes read
Veteran NewsHour Cameraman Brian Gill takes a parting shot of Toksook Bay. Photo by Sarah Clune, courtesy of PBS.
Veteran NewsHour Cameraman Brian Gill takes a parting shot of Toksook Bay. (Courtesy of PBS) — Photo by Sarah Clune

PBS NewsHour Correspondent Betty Ann Bowser was in the YK Delta recently with a NewsHour film crew to do research for a series on inadequate dental care in America.

The series aired on the PBS NewsHour November 15 & 16. The series can be viewed on the PBS NewsHour website.

The second part of the series focuses on the use of dental health aide therapists (DHAT) in Toksook Bay and the debate over that model of dental care.

In addition to the broadcast, PBS has many elements created specifically for their online health page (http://newshour.pbs.org/topic/health).

The online exclusives include:

A video dispatch from the Appalachian town of Grundy, Virginia, where uninsured residents stand outside in the cold and rain one weekend each fall to receive free dental care. There are only three dentists in this southwest corner of Virginia for a population of 24,000. Grundy resident Bobby Horn had every tooth in his mouth extracted that weekend. His town represents just one of the 4,600 spots in the nation suffering from an acute lack of dental care.

Photo Essay

An intimate look at a day in Toksook Bay, a small Yup’ik Eskimo village of about 550 on the edge of the Bering Sea.


A conversation with DHAT Jana Schuerch, a second-year student at the Yuut Elitnaurviat Dental Training Clinic in Bethel. Many hope the program will alleviate Alaska’s longtime dental shortage by allowing dental therapists like Jana to perform simple surgical procedures. Others-including members of the powerful American Dental Association-say only certified dentists are qualified to cut tissue and conduct other types of irreversible dental work. http://to.pbs.org/rRft8i

More to Come

(Check the PBS NewsHour website)

  • A video conversation with Eva Malvich, a 42-year-old mother of three from Bethel who was forced to quit her job and cash out her retirement to pay for dental care.
  • Spencer Michels reports on MediCal’s cuts to dental coverage in California, and how that might affect those who need dental care.
  • On Friday, Nov. 18, at 1 pm ET, Betty Ann Bowser will lead a live chat about the dental crisis in America on the NewsHour website. Check back soon for further details.
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