2020 was not the year any of us expected in January! However, I’m proud of the Catalyst team and the way we, and our partners, adapted to the “new normal.” We’ve met each other’s pets, learned the intricacies of Zoom, and tried our best to not talk when we are muted. We’ve also pivoted rapidly to ensure the patients, providers, and families we serve have the resources they need to respond effectively to everything that 2020 has thrown at us.

Here are some of the top Catalyst highlights for the year:

  • Securing funding for an adult dental (twice!): Not only did we get to celebrate funding a dental benefit for nearly a million Virginians once this year, but we did it twice! Thanks to the tireless work of our partners and health advocates across Virginia, 2020 became the year for an adult dental benefit in Medicaid despite a pandemic and budget cuts.
  • Meeting partner needs with a COVID-19 response: When our office went remote in March, we seamlessly transitioned our work to meet the needs of our community and safety-net partners who continue to provide care and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. We sent weekly resource emails, created new tools like the teledentistry implementation guide, and hosted webinars for partners to stay up-to-date. While the work looked different, it continued to meet our mission and support our partners.
  • Addressing systemic racism in Virginia: This year, following the murder of George Floyd we all began having tough conversations that were long overdue about the persistent racism in our country. Internally, Catalyst moved to support our staff by making a space for learning and discussion about racial equity and systemic racism, we looked critically at our policies and made changes to address the potential for unconscious bias and to state unequivocally that we are an anti-racist organization. For our partners, we were proud to highlight speakers like Dr. Rhea Boyd at the Virginia Oral Health Summit who pushed us all to grow as allies and advocates and create a more equitable health system.

Looking ahead to 2021

Catalyst accomplished a lot in 2020 for any year, but especially for one marked by a global pandemic. Moving into 2021 we’ll continue to build on our momentum by:

  • Rolling out the adult dental benefit: A big focus for the Catalyst team in 2021 is to support partners in the July rollout of the adult dental benefit in Medicaid. The team is hard at work on materials, webinars, and resources for partners across the health care community, you can stay up-to-date on the rollout here.
  • Building on racial equity conversations: We will not lose sight of the role systemic racism plays in health inequities in Virginia and we will continue to challenge ourselves internally and externally to meet this moment. As part of this effort, Catalyst is hosting a series of free racial equity training webinars that are sponsored by Virginia’s maternal and child health program. These trainings are open to anyone and registration is still open, and they are one way out of many that Catalyst plans to continue to address racism.
  • Implementing new value-based care recommendations: In 2020 Catalyst brought together a group of partners through the Future of Public Oral Health Workgroup to identify opportunities to improve the health care system in Virginia. In early 2021 we’ll be sharing the groups’ recommendations and will begin convening issue-specific groups to implement the recommendations. If you’d like to learn more about the recommendations and participate in one of the groups when they are convened please contact our Program Director, Ericca Facetti.

Thank you to all our partners for your work this year, I look forward to everything we’ll accomplish together in the coming year!