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Board of Directors
The Children’s Oral Health Institute
Dr. Bettye J. Jennings
Bettye Cobb Jennings is a retired dentist whose career was predominantly in the public health sector. After graduating from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, she completed a general rotating internship in dentistry; was awarded a Master degree in Public Health from Columbia University in New York City and completed the prerequisites for board certification in public health at the United States Public Health Service Dental Health Training Center in San Francisco, California. Academic training and job experiences in Newport News, Virginia and Washington, D.C. led Dr. Jennings to Baltimore where she became Director of the Bureau of Dental Health Care in the Baltimore City Health Department.
Dr. Jennings has always pursued her interest and enthusiasm for finding ways to make oral health care available and accessible for medically unserved and underserved groups. During her early work years, the Maryland State Medicaid program did not prioritize oral health care. In spite of being a relatively wealthy state, most dentists would not participate in the state Medicaid program because of low reimbursement rates for their services. As a member of the Dental Health Advisory Committee to the Maryland State Health Department, where arguments were made for expanding Medicaid dental insurance benefits, Dr. Jennings sought the kind of advice and professional support that would advance the committee’s arguments. A good resource in this regard was the Maryland Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians. Dr. Jennings did her homework and became the fourth dentist in the United States to become certified by the ABQAUP.
Dr. Jennings was awarded numerous grants, awards and citations for her dedicated work on behalf of marginalized groups including sickle cell anemia, HIV positive, elderly, chronically ill and uninsured patients She is especially proud of the six-figure competitive grant award she sought and received for the National Dental Association. The NDA grant award funded a National Head Start Initiative. As a result, she was awarded the Marie A. Waring Honorary Award named for the second black female dentist in the United States. She received multi-year Ryan White grants to fund dental care for HIV positive patients. In addition, she received grant funds to treat sickle cell anemia patients and she separately received grants for the elderly to receive dental care in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.
Dr. Jennings has written professional articles published in the Journal of Urban Health, the Journal of American Public Health (J.H.P.H.A) and newsletters. She was also a frequent responder with “Letters to the Editor” when the Baltimore Sun newspaper published controversial articles regarding fluoridation and safety issues relative to treating HIV positive patients. Through the years and in her retirement, she has been gratified by advancements in the oral health care profession.
Dr. Jennings continues to mentor young dentists and aspiring medical professionals. She enjoys retirement with her husband, two daughters, three grandsons and other members of her family and close friends.
***She has been published in national and local journals on public health issues related to dentistry and was a frequent responder with “Letters to the Editor” when the Baltimore Sun published controversial articles regarding fluoridation and safety issues relative to treating HIV positive patients. Through the years and in her retirement, she has been gratified by advancements in the oral health care profession.
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