Health Center News

NHCW Health Center Hero Nominee: Ashley Popejoy

Nominee: Ashely Popejoy, DDS, MS

Organization: Jordan Valley Community Health Center  

Ashely Popejoy was nominated by Elizabeth Fogle, Director of Program Advancement at Jordan Valley Community Health Center in Springfield, MO. Dr. Popejoy is a pediatric dentist whose innovation, coupled with her heart for service, has created solutions-based programs to help expand access to care. Under her leadership, Jordan Valley has implemented several strategies to increase the rate of dental participation among families in the community, including a program that integrates pediatric oral health services with the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) and the primary care setting.

“Dr. Popejoy developed a medical/dental/WIC integration committee with the aim to improve processes and efficiencies to allow for complete overall health of pediatric patients,” writes Fogle. “The collaboration has proven to be beneficial, as Jordan Valley is able to capture young children and perform a dental exam at the same time as their WIC or primary care visit. This innovative approach to integration is well received and appreciated by the families in our service area.”

Popejoy has also implemented a streamlined process for rural-based federally qualified health centers (FQHC) to refer patients to the Jordan Valley facility.  This referral system allows for high-risk children and special needs individuals to receive specialized treatment in the Jordan Valley pediatric dental department.

“Dr. Popejoy’s team creates a safe, welcoming environment for individuals with behavioral or developmental issues. Without her department, these individuals would not have access to dental care in the region. Dr. Popejoy’s heart for the underserved is a consistent theme behind her every endeavor,” writes Fogle.

In her time at Jordan Valley, Dr. Popejoy observed that there were referrals for special needs individuals coming from across the state with many individuals driving three or more hours to present to the clinic for dental care. In response, she completed training with the Special Olympics program and became a clinical director of the Special Smiles dental program with Special Olympics of Missouri.

Dr. Popejoy is also an advocate for structural changes in policy and programming in the state’s health care environment that benefit vulnerable populations. From defending water fluoridation to advocating for breastfeeding friendly legislation, Dr. Popejoy is an informed and involved participant in the Missouri political climate. In addition, Dr. Popejoy has been a fundamental participant in establishing and advancing the first Pediatric Dental Residency Program housed in a FQHC in the State of Missouri. Dr. Popejoy’s pediatric residents have patients who travel from all over the state for a visit in the oral surgery suite and to access other necessary services.

“Dr. Popejoy’s heart for the underserved is a consistent theme behind her every endeavor,” writes Fogle.

To vote for the Health Center Hero Award Recipient visit the NACHC Facebook Page.